Wine: By the banks of the Rhone


Geoffroy van Lede of offers his latest fine wines.

This month let’s talk about a region that smells like sunshine, which witnessed many popes, where the cicadas sing and from which the wines have been shunned for too long: The Côte du Rhône. In recent years the Rhone Valley – with the Grenache and Syrah – its two regal varieties, has been standing up to the challenge of raising its standards to a quality that can rival the the best.

The region
The wine region of the Rhone is divided in two: the north (Rhône Septentrional) , emerging along the river (from Vienna to Valencia with Côte-Rôtie , St Joseph and Hermitage) and south (Rhône Meridional with Gigondas, Châteauneuf du Pâpe, in a higher altitude, not far from Mont Ventoux.

The climate of the region evokes our greatest holiday fantasies. The sun is generous, the weather is dry and the wind rather shy. These conditions make us dream about the flavours of Provençal dishes, with often a spicy main course and a fruity dessert.

The wines
In the land of the Rhone, there are two kingdoms: the north ruled by the Syrah, known for its power and balance, and the south, where they have crowned the Grenache, round and rather sweet. But those are not the only jewels!

Compared to the best Bordeaux, the northern wines are strong in alcohol, but your taste buds won’t panic! Often based on the Syrah grape, the red wine remains very fragrant in the mouth, leaving you with a fairly complex fruity sensation. Among the big names, Hermitage and Cote Rotie are the most famous. White wines are rather rare here.

In the south, the wines remain strong in alcohol but slightly less tannic. If you like discoveries, here you are spoiled for choice – helped by very varied soils, red comes in many forms. So, between two bottles of Cotes du Rhone, do not be surprised to find very different grapes such as Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Syrah, etc.

Our selection
Domaine de la Combe Julière, Côte du Rhône Rouge 2013. Wine produced with respect for the land by Laurent Robert on his farm of 40 hectares. This wine offers a nice balance between body, complexity and fruit that will marry perfectly with your autumn dishes, such as stews and casseroles.

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