Winter is halfway gone, yet the chill in the air still has us reaching for the comfort of a chunky, spicy red wine.
If you’re thinking you don’t want to have another big bold cab, or a syrah loaded with lots of tannnins, it’s time to reach a Côtes du Rhône. Rhône wines can be perfect winter wines with their sunny south of France personalities and blends.
There a myriad of red Côtes du Rhônes to satisfy your red wine lust.
Côtes du Rhône is the largest regional appellation for red, rose and white wines in the Rhône Valley in eastern France following the course of the Rhône river for 125 miles from Saint-Cyr-sur-le-Rhône in the north to Avignon in the south—covering more than 170 parishes.
Most Côtes du Rhône wines are red, and they are usually blends of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvedre—often relying most heavily on Grenache. These wines exhibit spicy, cherry flavors and aromas along with some earthy tones. The spices are often of the Provençal variety, including thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and cloves.
One of the intriguing aspects of these wines is the many different styles that they exhibit. They range from the basic traditional lighter and fruitier Côtes du Rhône to more full-bodied, complex and age-worthy wines.. Whatever style you try, traditional or modern, you’ll find unpretentious, hearty and satisfying wines at a good value.
Some Rhône wines to look for are:
E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône is a large production wine that you’ll find easily, and for good reason. Its dark purple color with a smoky nose of kirsch and a hint of thyme and other Provençal spices. It is medium-bodied with has a spicy palate and a plump, silky texture. Everything you want a red from this region to be with good structure, balance and complexity.You can keep this one for several years. About $12.
Chateau Mont-Redon Côtes du Rhône is a classic style blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. The primary aromas are kirsch, cherry and spices. On the palate, sweet, ripe crushed red berry fruit flavors and aromas are offset by bright, vibrant notes of black pepper and a suggestion of leather. Decent finish with plenty of acid and supple, medium-bodied tannin. About $15.
Barton & Guestier Côtes du Rhône has been committed to making top quality wines since 1725, and this a popular blend of three dark-skinned grape varieties: 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Carignan. It offers warm aromas of cherry, red currant, black pepper and spice. As flor flavors, it delivers plenty of blackberry and plum fruit as well as some black pepper, spice and herbal notes in one balanced package. Rich, full-bodied, lingering finish. About $10.
Chapoutier Belleruche Rouge is a great introduction to Côtes-du-Rhône wine. With a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, this garnet red wine has rich aromas of red cherries, raspberry, rhubarb and spices, licorice, pepper, wisps of cedar and earthy minerals. It’s soft and round on the palate with silky-smooth tannins and lush rich, blueberry, red currant, raspberry and cherry fruit. Hints of licorice and spicy peppercorn and dense black cherry notes are embraced by hints of sweet vanilla and warm, spicy cinnamon elements. This wine has a great structure and a substantial finish to be enjoyed over the next several years and it will superbly partner most rich meat dishes.
Côtes du Rhones are generally drunk young, so you can get a more recent vintage usually at a great price. Other producers to seek out include Jaboulet’s Parallel 45, Chave, Andre Andrieux & Fils, Caves des Papes Domaine Pelaquie, Domaine La Milliere and Chateau de Beaucastel, and many more. Trying any of these four reds will surely bring warmth to a cold winter’s day!
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