It’s Rhone month! For a few reasons – first, November is Rhône month for our wine clubs and we’ve been tasting some of the delicious wines going out in the Wine.com club shipments and I promise, if you are a wine club member, you will be pleased. Second, it’s the time of year for Rhône wines. The cooler temperatures and the warm wines are an excellent pair. And finally, on a personal note, my mom just passed her Rhône Master Level exam through the French Wine Society – one of only 10 who received scores over 80%! So, in honor of our wine club theme AND Mom, here are a few Rhônes that rock.
Côtes-du-Ventoux – A couple of our wines in the wine clubs this month are from the Cotes-du-Ventoux. And I’m officially a fan! I’ve tasted the La Vielle Ferme Cotes-du-Ventoux before and for $8, it's hard to beat. But after expanding my Ventoux repertoire, I get excited about this region. A fairly large area situated on the east bank of the Rhône river, this is what I’d call and up-and-coming region, though they’ve been making wine there for centuries. I say up-and-coming because more merchants/producers in the Rhône getting this juice in bottles that are making it out of the country. The wines are similar to Côtes-du-Rhône – based on Grenache and blended with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault (they also use Carignan here). Taste is similar to Côtes-du-Rhône wines as well, though the Ventoux wines are a bit fuller-bodied and seem richer on the palate – a bit more savory if you will. The majority of the wines here are red, though they do make some refreshing whites and some tasty rose. Delas, La Vielle Ferme and Chateau Pesquie – all are fantastic wines and values.
Vinsobres – A newly appointed “cru,” Vinsobres was upgraded from a Côtes-du-Rhône Villages to its own appellation in 2005. 50% Grenache is required in the blend. We tasted the Perrin & Fils Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2006 recently and it was excellent… Warm and inviting, dark red fruits, dried herbs, excellent balance of acid and tannin, long finish. What you love about Rhône wines is in this bottle.
Costières de Nîmes– Another “up-and-coming” region, this area is on the other side of the Rhône– the right bank. It’s making reds and whites, but what stand out to me are the delicious white blends from here. Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne – the usual suspects for making Rhône whites. But he ones I’ve tasted have a higher proportion of Roussanne, the delicate, highly aromatic grape of the region. This in turn leads to wonderfully aromatic wine with a full mouthfeel and lingering finish. Reds and rose wine are also great in these parts.
St. Joseph – St.Joseph, on the right bank of the Rhône River on the north side. 100% Syrah, making a wine with excellent structure. The ones I have tasted a bit less abrasive than the more edgy Cornas. These wines offer big, black fruits and lots of peppery spice, with an excellent tannic structure and a quite a finish. If you’re looking for something to pair with game, hearty stews or a hard cheese, these wines are a great match. Guigal makes excellent St.Joseph wines, but for value, try the Delas or the St. Cosme.
Interested in learning more about the Rhone? Visit www.rhone-wines.com