Yes, I know we’ve done tastings with wines from the Rhône Valley before. It happens, though, that in a region with over 6000 producers that’s been cultivating wine for over 1400 years, we find it hard to limit ourselves to just one or two tastings a year that include our faves from the region. This Sunday, we’ve enlisted the help of our friend Andy Ramirez to cart over a pink wine and five red ones that each exemplify a sub-region of the valley, and we’ll be preparing dishes to highlight them all as well. The tasting begins at 3:30 and costs $30; reservations are an excellent plan and can only be made in person or by phone at 326-9363 (web and email reservations won’t hold you a place.) We hope you can join us, as it promises to be delicious.
More Fun in the Rhône Valley
2016 Domaine de Beaurenard Rosé, Côtes du Rhône $19.00
The Coulon family has estate-bottled its wines since the early 1900s. In fact, Paul Coulon’s father and grandfather were instrumental in creating the regulations of the Appellation Contrôlée system (Châteauneuf du Pape was France’s first appellation contrôlée, in 1929). The Coulons have been biodynamically farming their vineyards for decades, which can’t be easy given the fact that they own over two dozen parcels spread throughout the appellation. They continue to use horse drawn tractors for their all estate winery. The Rosé is bright and lively in color, on the nose and on the front of the palate, rounded out with delicate minerality.
2015 J. L. Chave “Mon Coeur” Côtes du Rhône $22.00
With the fruit all coming from Vinsobres, Cairanne and Rasteau (all in the northern part of the Southern Rhône, the Mon Coeur is a cut above most Côtes-du-Rhônes in structure and complexity. This offering shows notes of sweet and spicy berries, violets, and a touch of licorice.
2015 Domaine de Beaurenard Rasteau $24.00
This highly concentrated wine, made from vines planted on the best slopes and terraces of the famous Rasteau soils, has an appealingly strong personality. Besides aromas of very ripe fruit, it is generally laced with notes of spice and garrigue scrubland scents specific to this terroir. Appealing tannic structure, a rounded body, rich and powerful…this is the Beaurenard’s typically strong character.
2013 Domaine Le Couroulu Vacqueyras $25.00
Located between Gigondas and Chateauneuf du Pape, the village of Vacqueyras received Appellation Controllee status in 1990. Domaine Le Couroulu, founded in 1928 and still owned by the Ricard family, is known for producing elegant Vacqueyras and other wines from their 20 hectares of old Grenache and Syrah vines.
Robert Parker rated the estate as an “excellent” (****) producer in his book, Wines of the Rhône Valley and cited it among his “Best European Wine Values.” Recently, he bestowed even more praise: “this is a sensational estate…whose wines have given me enormous pleasure for nearly two decades” (Wine Advocate #185, 10/31/09).
The Vacqueyras Cuvee Classique is a blend of 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 15% Mourvedre. It undergoes a long, 20-day maceration period and is aged in large oak casks for two years before bottling. Ruby-red. Fresh cherry and dark berries on the smoke-accented nose and in the mouth. Tightly focused black currant, bitter cherry and lavender pastille flavors pick up a hint of succulent herbs with air. Firm and spicy on the youthfully tannic finish, where the floral and smoke notes linger.
2014 Domaine du Cayron Gigondas $40.00
Considered by many to be the benchmark producer in the appellation, Cayron produces a Gigondas (cepage is roughly 70% Grenache; 15% each Syrah and Cinsault and a drop of Mourvèdre for color) of phenomenal richness and incredible longevity. Their vines are on average 40+ years old with parcels up to 70 years old. This is old-styled, powerful wine of enormous fruit amplitude and irresistible personality.
2013 Domaine du Galet des Papes Châteauneuf du Pape $49.00
Jean-Luc Mayard is a proud, dedicated, and determined traditionalist, using tried-and-true methods to produce classic, old-style Châteauneuf du Pape. Working from cellars built by his father in 1929 and farming 13 hectares with an average production of only 3,500 cases, his wines are intense, deep, powerful expressions of the essence of Châteauneuf du Pape. Owning several parcels spread all over the Châteauneuf landscape, with an average vine age of 50 years, Mayard produces two wines: a Châteauneuf Tradition from 80% Grenache, with the remaining 20% split between Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Vaccarese, and, only since the extraordinary 1990 vintage, an old vines Cuvée Vieilles Vignes from a parcel that is piled high with the huge galet stones from which the domaine gets its name. The gnarled and arthritic looking Vieilles Vignes parcel has seen some 100 vintages, and consists of 60% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah.