Cotes du Rhone Basics
The Cotes du Rhone one of the best value areas of the entire store. The Rhone has had a string of excellent vintages, starting in 1998 and with just a couple of exceptions, running right through 2009.
How can they make such good wines at such low prices? I don' t know. I'm just glad they do.
From the biggest producers (e.g. Guigal) through some with tiny production (e.g. Janasse), the red wines are generally ripe and juicy. They have excellent natural acidity to balance all that fruit, so they rarely become fat or heavy. The typical Cotes du Rhone is medium bodied, and incredibly versatile when it comes to food.
The primary red grape varieties are Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvedre, though those are not the only grapes being used. Most Cotes du Rhone are Grenache based blends, though some ( like Domaine d'Andezon) are Syrah based.
The white wines of the Cotes du Rhone are not as well known in America. Cotes du Rhone Blancs are intensely flavored, and don't taste much like any other wines.
The main white grape varieties are Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier, Clairetter and Bourblanc. I wouldn't be surprised to find out you have never heard of several of these grapes (there is a white Grenache?), since I hadn't either until I had been in the wine business for a few years.
The aromas of white Cotes du Rhone tend toward the floral, while the flavors tend toward apricot, crisp green apple, anise, hazelnut and lavender, with some exotic fruits thrown in for good measure. They are definitely worth a try.
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