Friday, June 22, 2012

Red Wines from France’s Southern Rhone Valley... Part Two

More About French Wines From Paul Nicollian!

Red Wines from France’s Southern Rhone Valley... Part Two

In this blog, we will mostly focus on the less glamorous, less expensive appellations because in recent vintages, the quality level of these wines has soared and merit serious attention.

All of the wines that are reviewed are from the 2009 vintage, which is perhaps the best that I have ever tasted at this level. The five wines that are presented were the standouts in the dozen or so offerings that I sampled. In the tasting notes, the designation “Cotes du Rhone Villages” means that the wine is from a specific state approved village (there are around sixteen). The generic label “Cotes du Rhone” is for wines that are not entitled to “village” stature - and comprise the largest acreage under vine in the region.

The wines are discussed roughly in order of my increasing preference, although I’m splitting hairs between wines 2, 3, and 4. The prices quoted are everyday prices, and you can expect them to drop by around 10% if you purchase a (mixed) case. All of the wines were acquired from either Sigel’s (Greenville and Southwestern) or Goody-Goody (Greenville and Phoenix) as noted.

1) The 2009 Galevan – Cotes du Rhone Villages – L’Espirit Devin is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre. Fruit forward with notes of cherries, smoke, vanilla beans, and roses, this is the wine to pick when you want to relax with a nice wine that is easy to drink and doesn’t require much thought to enjoy. Pricing and availability: $18/bottle at Goody-Goody.

2) The 2009 Beaucastel - Cotes du Rhone – Coudoulet de Beaucastel, from one of the great producers of Chateauneuf du Pape, is a blend of 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault. Red and black fruits, kirsch, pepper, leather, and lavender are evident. I suspect that this wine will be even better with a little bottle age. Pricing and availability: $27/bottle at Goody-Goody and Sigel’s.

3) The 2009 Andre Brunel – Cotes du Rhone Villages – Cuvee Sabrine, from another top producer of Chateauneuf du Pape (Les Cailloux), is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre. It possesses blackberry, blueberry, kirsch liqueur, lavender, and earthy characteristics. This wine is a fabulous deal for the price. Pricing and availability: $15/bottle at Sigel’s.

4) The 2009 Andre Brunel – Cotes du Rhone – Cuvee Sommelongue is also from the producer of Les Cailloux Chateauneuf du Pape. It is a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah. I suspect that some tasters will prefer wines 2) and 3) over this one, but what I like most about this offering is that it essentially tastes like it is a baby Chateauneuf du Pape. Notes of cherries, prunes, figs, toasted almonds and leather are apparent. This wine is also an unbelievable deal for the money. Pricing and availability: $15/bottle at Sigel’s.

5) The 2009 Domaine Santa Duc – Gigondas – Cuvee Tradition, from one of the “big-three” Gigondas producers, is an excellent choice for those looking for a “weekend wine”. It is a blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and the remaining 15% a combination of Syrah and Cinsault. It is packed with blueberries, blackberries, kirsch, licorice, and smoke. Despite the price, make no mistake about it – this is a great value for this quality level of winemaking. The 2009 drinks atypically well young for this estate, as their wines usually require about fifteen years of bottle aging. Allow it to breathe at least thirty minutes before serving – several hours (or even overnight) would be preferable. Pricing and availability: $38/bottle at Sigel’s.




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