Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Tour of Southern Rhone Reds

In the spring of 2011, My husband and I were fortunate enough to tour and taste our way through Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Rasteau. From the moment I stepped into the vineyards of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, I immediately fell in love with the region.

Photo taken outside of Moulin de la Gardette's Tasting Room, Gigondas, March 2011.

There are so many reasons to fall in love with the Southern Rhone wine region of France: The Mediterranean climate, the history and architecture, the local cuisine, and of course, the wine! The Southern Rhone encompasses a large area of sub-appellations, as per the map below:

My apologies for the not-so-good photo, this was taken off of one of my wine posters hung in my basement.

My father is also a huge fan of Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines, but hasn't had a lot of experience with the other sub-appellations. So when he came for a visit in mid-April, we dipped into my wine cellar, pillaged one of our local wine stores, and performed a "taste-off" to see which sub-appellation(s) we liked best.

1. Famille Perrin Vacqueyras "Les Christins" 2015

Concentrated and complex, with notes of cranberries, red cherries, baking spice and a hint of the tell-tale fleshiness that Southern Rhone wines are known for (my WSET Adv teacher referred to them as "Chateauneuf-du-poop" because she's classy like that). Bright acidity and velvety tannins make this beauty very approachable. You could enjoy Les Christins on its own, but it also pairs spectacularly with heavier red meats like sirloin tip beef roast.

2. Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2015

I was fortunate enough to obtain 2 of the last bottles in my local area after this wine was ranked 5th overall on Wine Spectator's Top 100 List of 2017. Smooth and lush mouthfeel, consisting of red cherry, leather, cigar box and medicinal hints. The acidity is still fairly sharp but the tannins are soft and well-integrated into the body. This baby needs at least 1 hour in the decanter to open up, and she'll need a good 7 years minimum in the cellar, but still reflects the true flavour profile of a Southern Rhone red wine. My second bottle won't see the light of day for another decade, I'm excited to see how the wine develops!

The nose opens up to ripe blackberries and barnyard aromas. Ground cloves and a charcoal finish join the palate, along with focused tannins and mouthwatering acidity. Sadly, the charcoal finish falls off rather quickly. This wine did not speak to my palate, but my dad and husband thought it was decent! Definitely worth tasting.

This wine is showing its age with aromas of dried cherries and dried tobacco. However, the palate still shows bright acidity and a long, lively finish. A flavour profile that includes a hint of smoke and a charcoal backbone adds complexity and depth to the rich body. Absolutely stunning, and if you can find this vintage, worth the splurge (estimated price in CDN is $42).

There were a few other bottles we tasted from the AOC Cotes du Rhone and Rasteau; however, they did not make the short list for this blog post.

It was almost unanimous, but the surprising favourite of our tasting tour is...

Famille Perrin "Les Christins" Vacqueyras! 

Here is how we ranked our top 4 choices:

Sara's Rankings                                                                Dad's & Husband's Rankings

1. Domaine Barville CNDP 2009                                      1. Famille Perrin Vacqueyras 2015
2. Famille Perrin Vacqueyras 2015                                   2. Domaine Barville CNDP 2009
3. Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2015                    3. Chateau Pesquie Terrasses Ventoux 2015
4. Chateau Pesquie Terrasses Ventoux 2015                   4. Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2015

We may not return to the Southern Rhone anytime soon, but our fond memories of the region and our love for their wines will stay with us forever. And we can always buy more Rhone wines anytime we like!

So what's next for the Wine Concubine? It's time to start my major tasting project of the year; I'll be conducting a "Cremant Tour de France" over the next few months, ending in Colmar, France with Cremant d'Alsace! Stay tuned, up first is Cremant de Bourgogne!


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