Wine by Wohlert: Cotes du Rhône

Boire du vin avec moi!

Todd Wohlert

French wine freaks some people out. They can’t figure out the labels. They can’t figure out what grapes are in the wine. They don’t know how to pair it with food. They think it’s too snooty. A small percentage of it is snooty. We can’t afford it so let’s not talk about. Let’s talk about what the regular folks drink and enjoy with their amazing cuisine! The Rhône region of France, in the Southeast quadrant by the Mediterranean, is a great place to start, flavor wise and economically. You find Pinot Noir in Burgundy and Cab Sauv and Merlot in Bordeaux but, in the Rhône, Grenache and Syrah are the big dogs.

Grenache is usually spicy, berry-flavored, and soft on the palate and produces wine with a higher octane of alcohol, but its wines tend to lack acid, tannin, and color, and is often blended with other varieties. Grenache is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône wines. Syrah tends to react more to its climate. In hot climates, like parts of Australia, Syrah is more consistently full-bodied with softer tannin, jammier fruit, and spice notes of licorice, anise, and earthy leather. In moderate climates, like Northern Rhône, Syrah tends to produce medium to full-bodied wines with high levels of tannins and notes of blackberry, mint, and black pepper. In many regions, the acidity and tannin levels of Syrah allow the wines produced to have favorable aging potential. So, a Cotes du Rhône is primarily a blend of these two regions and these grapes.

Guigal’s Côtes du Rhône Rouge sets the standard for the appellation. The Guigals select and blend their wine from over 40 top growers, and their talent lies in the rigorous and exhaustive traveling and tasting they carry out. Ultimately, they will select only one percent of all wines they taste for their Cotes du Rhône Rouge… one lot out of every one-hundred.

Guigal ages their Côtes du Rhône Rouge for at least two years before release, almost unheard of in the Rhône. This expensive process results in a wine of unusual complexity, with a substantial and generous palate. Fresh fruits with red berries and spices on the nose. The palate is full, round and racy with rounded and smooth tannins – a full-bodied, rich, and intensely aromatic wine. It ends with a long finish and plenty of elegance and finesse due to the well-balanced tannins and fruit. Enjoy with hearty Fall/Winter dishes!

Todd Wohlert  author

Todd Wohlert works for Purple Feet Wines, a member of the Winebow Group. He is the most requested wine advisor in the Seven Rivers Region, making weekly appearances and spreading the gospel of good wine. He is available for private events but does not do any of that Magic Mike stuff anymore.