If you enjoy full-bodied red or white, and fragrant s that age well Côtes du Rhône is the region to look for. This rugged region’s vineyards are located mainly on both banks of the mighty Rhone River that originates in Switzerland and runs through the region then flows into the Mediterranean Sea.
The rich history of this windswept valley and cuisine has made it a captivating tourist region. Regional food is flavourful, and always lovingly and expertly prepared. You will never be served reheated, unappetizing, and dull looking food. The wines are even more interesting. Vineyards were first planted by Greek traders venturing north from the city of Massilia (today’s Marseille) and which was founded around 200 B C. Cotes du Rhone’s warm, sunny, Mediterranean climate ripen grapes fully, and yield generous, deep red wines, with ripe tannins, balance and harmony. All complement regional specialties perfectly.
Syrah, mourvedre, grenache, carignane, and cinsault are only some of the most popular red wine varities, while viognier, marsanne, roussanne, picpoul and grenache blanc are preferred by growers for white wines. The vineyards of the northern Rhone line both banks of the river. They are planted almost entirely to syrah, i.e. Petit syrah (not to be confused with Durif. This is called Syrah a petit grain that is small-berried and thick-skinned, both of which contribute to superior taste when fully ripe. Here in most vintages grapes ripen fully). Cotes du Rhone stretches in the north (Vienne) to south (Valence) are Chateau Grillet (the smallest appellation of all of France with two hectares), Cote Roti, Condrieu, Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage, St Joseph and Cornas.
Only a small portion of wines of the Rhone comes from this part, and understandably, tend to be expensive. Viognier originates here and until recently was neglected, but now with increasing international interest, the vineyards have been expending exponentially. The red wines exude black fruit and accents of black pepper, smoked meat, and firm tannins, making them excellent and age worthy. Syrah here, particularly from Crozes Hermitage, and Hermitage, and Cote Roti produce memorable red wines.
M. Chapoutier, Cave de Tain, A et P Fayoll, Jaboulet and Guigal are large and well established wineries. Here small vignerons produce outstanding wines, which they sell directly to consumers in their tasting rooms or ship on demand (In Europe wine may be shipped within the country and internationally with the exception a few countries that use state controlled distribution of alcoholic beverages as is the case in Finland, and Norway). Most of their wines hardly ever come to North America.
Invitare Condrieu white, 2006, M.Chautier, Cornas 2003, Cave de Tain, Parallel 45, 2004 M. Chapoutier and Hermitage, 2003, Jaboulet are drinking well, particularly with medium-rare grilled steaks, or roast rib of beef, BBQ pork, game stews and aged cheeses. Southern Rhone starts south of the town Montelimar, famous for its nougat, and stretches all the way to Avignon, once the summer seat of Popes.
Here the valley opens up; the climate turns distinctly Mediterranean with hot summers and cold winters. The mistral that blows down form the north, keeps the vineyards well ventilated and relatively disease free.
The Appellation controlle permits 13 grape varieties for Chateauneuf-du-Pape but 50 percent of the vineyards are planted to grenache. Most of the grenache is used in blends and a good portion for rose wines in Tavel and Lirac. Some winemakers in Chateauneuf-du-Pape employ all the 13 grape varieties in their blends with stunning results. Chateauneuf-du-Pape enjoys great popularity for its red wines, although a small portion of whites is also produced. Gigondas, and Vacqueyras, are the other subregions nest to Cotes du Rhone Village and Cotes du Rhone tout simple.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape blanc, 2005,
Domaine Mathieu; Seguret Cotes du Rhone Village Tradition, 2005,
Domaine de Mourchon; Tradition Le Grand Montmirail, 2005,
Domaine Drusset, Montpezat Vacqueyras, 2005;
Domaine des Ondines, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2004;
Domaine du Galet de Papes Vieille Vignes, J.L. Moyord; Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2004,
Château Fortia are highly recommended.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Pope’s new castle) can be some of the most alluring of warm climate wines. The name originates from the summer house built in a town formerly known as Celernier, when the Papal Court was relocated to Avignon in the 14th century, and it is the birth place of France’s now famous and much imitated appellation controlle classification system. Chateau Fortia’s owner formulated the rules to produce Chateauneuf du Pape. It prescribes the grape varieties permitted (13 in all), also sets upper limits of yield per hectare, minimum natural alcohol levels, forbids chaptalization (actually never needed in this region), and irrigation.
Although the vast majority of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is red, a small quantity of whites is also produced. If you prefer sweet wines try Beaumes-de–Venise produced from Muscat a petit grain, originally from Alexandria in Egypt and you will be thrilled with its aroma, balance and fruitiness.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.