Monday, March 5, 2012

Rhone: The Only Region Where I'd go North in the Winter

Rhone ranger.  Rhoneophile.  These are a few of the terms I've used to describe my love of Rhone wines.  So you can imagine how excited I was for the Essex County Wine Society Northern Rhone Red Wine tasting.  The Northern Rhone is one of my favorite regions because they make hearty syrah with a range of secondary notes from the gamey to the herbaceous to the floral.  One of the reasons they get such a range is that winemakers in the Northern Rhone will blend Syrah with up to 10% Vigonier, a floral and crisp white grape from the region.  Additionally, Northern Rhone Syrah tends to be very acidic, often due to Viognier, which makes it a great food companion.

Unfortunately the Northern Rhone can also be a very "un-ocratic" region as wines can cost well over $100 per bottle.  However, as with all regions, there are values to be found.

Luckily, there was one value wine in my 3 favorite wines of the evening.
-2009 Domaine Durand, Cornas, Empreintes Syrah:  Delightful nose and palate of bright cherry with some herbal notes; Very dry, but fruit forward (compared with French, not Californian wines) - $35
-2009 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Cote Rotie, Syrah (w/Viognier):  Gamey with hints of cherry and pepper; Classic Cote Rotie and one of my favorite flavor profiles - $135  

I know that $35 is hardly a value wine for most people, but in the context of Northern Rhone red wine, any good wine under $40 can be considered a value.  Moreover, you can find great Viognier from the Northern Rhone for well under $40.  Like most white varietals, it's food friendly and pairs well with many different cuisines.

Northern Rhone wines tend to be very dry and acidic and are definitely not for everyone.  Though if you're looking for a big, red wine to go with a hearty meal, you can't go wrong with a Northern Rhone red.  It's the only way I go North in the winter!

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff.

Alli M.


elliej said...

Good to hear from you again -- I'll have to check out some Rhone wines -- either at a restaurant or at your favorite wine store here.

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