The wines of the Southern Rhone Valley, as I have discussed before, are always some of my favourites. The red wines, based primarily on a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre are generally soft and juicy with a touch of spice. The whites, made primarily from a blend of Grenache Blanc (different from the red version), Marsanne, Roussane, Bourbelanc and Clairette are quite unique and can be delicious. They also produce some great dry rose wines made primarily from Grenache.
The 2007 vintage in the Southern Rhone has been getting a lot of hype and I have tasted some great value wines from the the area of the Cotes-du-Rhone. The Cotes-du-Rhone is a fairly large area producing both outstanding value wines as well as some mass produced plonk. As a general statement however these can be some of the best values in France. The 2007 Cotes-du-Rhone I have tasted from great producers such as Perrin et Fils, JL Chave, St. Cosme, Chateau Beaurenard and others have been very ripe and voluptuous. Most of the higher quality wines carry the label “Cotes-du-Rhone Villages” which means the wines must come from a more limited area than the general Cotes-du-Rhone. You can also find wines that list individual villages on their label which can potentially provide even better quality. An example of this is the 2007 Perrin et Fils Cotes-du-Rhone Villages “Cairanne” with grapes coming from the area around the village of that name. Other great villages include Rasteau, Puymeras and Sablet. There are a total of 19 villages whose names can appear on a label.
So do yourself a favour and pick up some of these tasty treats. Try the reds with simple burgers or whip up some Beef Bourgignon for something a little more fancy. The whites are great with meatier white fish such as halibut and the rose’s are perfect with cedar planked salmon.