Southern Rhone

My wines from the Southern Rhone are all individual selections from smaller producers and so instead of having an separate page for each producer, there is a brief description of each and then the wines will be described after that.  You can also click on each producer's name to move to the tasting notes.

Roque Colombe (Region: Chateauneuf du Pape): Beautifully situated vineyards slightly northeast of the village (and next to the vineyards of Chateau Rayas) which produce very elegant and perfectly balanced Chateauneuf du Pape.  The expressiveness and elegance of their wines is from a broad variety of soil types in the vineyards which include sandy soils, sandstone, terraces of river stones, marls, limestone, and "safres" - a locally unique terroir of compacted sand which adds balance and minerality to their wines.

Domaine des Capes (Region: Gigondas): The Daniel family has grown grapes in the area since 1753.  Their Gigondas vineyards are located in my favorite part of the appellation in the upper valley between the "capes" of the two Dentelles de Montmirail that are above the village.  The rockier soils in this area are full of minerals which produce the rich deep flavors in their wines.

Domaine de la Cheneraie (Region: Beaumes de Venise): Perfectly located south facing vineyards in the highest vineyard location above the village produce a very expressive and minerally wine.  The Domaine's name is from the truffle oaks that once bordered the vineyards (chene means oak in French).  Although there are not truffles in the wine, there is a little "something extra" as on my first tasting I recognized the Cote Rotie hints and then verified that they do add some Viognier to the blend each year.

Legende des Toques Cotes du Rhone (Region: Southern Rhone): An interesting consortium of small growers and the leading "cusiniers" of Southern France choose the blend for this very food friendly Cotes du Rhone each year.  The cuisiniers (Toques!) use the wine as the house red in their restaurants and I have been delighting palates in California for three vintages now with this wine that has more versatility with food pairings than any wine in the portfolio.

Heritage Cotes du Rhone (Region: Southern Rhone):  All of our wines are wonderful expressions of their local "terroir" but this goes further with expressing the long traditions and heritage of the Southern Rhone.  This is a special "cuvee" produced each year by a collaboration of family vignerons whose vineyards are mainly on the minerally slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail.  The result is a rich, deeply flavored, and food friendly wine that follows the traditions of local wines that have been enjoyed for centuries in this area.

Terrasse Pavée (Region: Southern Rhone): Terrasse Pavée is a small producer located in the ancient village of Séguret which is located about five miles north of Gigondas in the foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail.  The village is known for its clay and limestone soils which result in very expressive and distinctive wines.  My initial selection from the producer is a Cotes du Rhone Villages rouge which I thought was a remarkable example of the terroir.

Passe Colline (Region: Ventoux): Very beautiful and perfectly situated "mountain" vineyards in the Ventoux appellation which produce very food friendly, perfectly balanced, and minerally red, white, and rose blends.

The Wines

Roque Colombe Chateauneuf du Pape 2016 (NF)

 

Roque Colombe is produced by a family who has owned a vineyard for over 200 years that is next to Chateau Rayas, which was founded 60 years later.  In the typical tradition of many French farmers, until about 15 years ago they sold all of their grapes to “prestigious” adjacent producers such as Chateau Vaudieu, which is also directly below Chateau Rayas.

 

The Roque Colombe wine benefits from the notable soil type in this part of Chateauneuf du Pape known as “Safres” which is compressed sand augmented by quartz deposits.  The Safres soil type is known for producing wines of elegance and balance as compared with many of the typical “big and robust” wines produced in the appellation.

In 2016 the blend was 56% Grenache, 34% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault.  There  are primary aromas of rich cherries and very fragrant old roses along with hints of blueberries and hibiscus.  Flavors are mainly of rich cherries and plums along with some interesting hints of caramel. There is a deep red color, a rich medium to full body, a fully saturated mouthfeel, and a beautiful balance between the tannins and rich fruit.

Food pairings would include filet mignon, New York streak, rib eye, roast beef, short ribs, veal chop, pork chops, pork tenderloin, duck, venison, Asian beef dishes, grilled vegetables, and hard cheeses. 

Domaine des Capes Gigondas 2019 (OF, NF)

 

This is from an interesting part of Gigondas as the vineyards are in the high “saddle” that is on the other side of the Dentelle above the village.  This is very rocky and more minerally terrain from the millions of years of rocks that have tumbled down into the vineyards from the two Dentelles on either side.

 

This is also a fun and interesting Gigondas with its aromatics and layers of flavors.  The blend is 53% Grenache and 47% Syrah and it opens with aromas of cherry kirsch, rich plums, dark cherries, mild cedar, ripe blueberries, blackberries, and vanilla.  Flavors include blackberries, dark plums, mild cedar, dark cherries, and hints of chocolate and rosemary.  There is a medium body, perfect balance, good acidity, and a long finish with mild but perfect tannins.

 

Food pairings would include filet mignon, New York steak, rib eye, Sirloin, roast beef, roast veal, veal chops, roast pork, pork chops, BBQ ribs, brisket, duck, tuna, smoked trout, steamed mussels, grilled shrimp, jambalaya, beef with broccoli, charcuterie, and both blue and hard cheeses.

Domaine de la Cheneraie Beaumes de Venise 2016 (OF, NF)

 

There is a little "something extra" in this wine as on my first tasting I recognized the Cote Rotie hints and then verified that they do add some Viognier to the blend each year.  In 2016 the blend was 52% Syrah, 43% Grenache, and 5% Viognier and it produces beautiful aromas of baked bread, old roses, rich black fruits, and mild limes.  Flavors are framed by black fruits and sweet and well-balanced tannins and include a mix of dried herbs such as basil, rosemary, and sage along with hints of roasted coffee.  There is medium body, good balance, and a rich memorable finish.

Food pairings would include Rib Eye steak, roast beef, beef stew, short ribs, veal chop, duck, meaty pasta sauces, fried anchovies, blackened salmon, Asian beef dishes, vegetable stir fry, and hard cheeses.

Legende des Toques Cotes du Rhone 2019

 

The 2019 Legende des Toques is an interesting blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Carignan, and 10% Syrah where the Carignan is now a much more significant percentage of the wine instead of more of an accent as with the 2017 and 2018.  This continues to be a collaborative project between some small producers in the Southern Rhone and six very prominent “cuisiniers” in France each year to produce a very food friendly wine.

Aromas and complex and interesting and include strawberries, raspberries, ripe peaches, nectarines, heirloom roses, blood oranges and a hints of vanilla and caramel.  Flavors include blackberries, boysenberries, red plums, and an interesting accent of tart cherries.  There is a medium body that that is smooth and balanced across the palate, good acidity, and a full saturated finish.

The “cuisiniers” have really hit a home run with this being a food friendly wine as food pairings are extensive and versatile and would include Filet Mignon, beef stew, pasta with meat sauces, lamb, duck, chicken, pork tenderloin, pork shoulder, salmon, tuna, swordfish, red snapper, mussels, clams, sauteed shrimp, seafood pasta, paella, cassoulet, coq au vin, Asian beef and pork dishes, lamb and chicken curries, Mexican pork and chicken dishes, grilled sausages, charcuterie, and hard cheeses.

Terrasse Pavée Cotes du Rhone Villages Séguret 2019

 

This is a blend of 60% Grenache,25% Mourvedre, and 15% Syrah.  Aromas include blackberries, dark, plums, and rich dark fruits.  Flavors include blackberries, strawberries, and red plums.  There is a medium body but with an interesting contrast of “lightness” across the palate along with a fully saturated perception of the flavors, good balance and acidity, and a full memorable finish with seductive hints of bitterness.

 

Food pairings would include Filet Mignon, short ribs, beef stew, veal stew, pork shoulder, coq au vin, cassoulet, paella, jambalaya, Asian beef dishes, and duck.

Heritage Cotes du Rhone 2015 (NF)

This is a special "cuvee" produced each year by a collaboration of family vignerons whose vineyards are mainly on the minerally slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail.  The blend in 2015 was 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah and it produces aromas of rich cherries, ripe plums, and strawberry compote.  Flavors include black currants, blackberries, and hints of wild herbs.  There is a rich saturating mouthfeel, good balance across the palate, and an interesting finish with somewhat dry but "grippy" tannins.

Food pairings would include filet mignon, New York steak, rib eye, roast beef, short ribs, beef stew, other grilled meats such as veal chops or pork chops, Asian beef dishes, vegetable stir fry, medium curries, vegetable casseroles, grilled vegetables, and hard cheeses.

Passe Colline Ventoux Blanc 2020 (OF, NF)

 

This is a blend of 41% Clairette, 32% Roussanne, and 27% Vermentino.  Aromas include white flowers, honeysuckle, camellia, narcissus, and wildflower honey.  Flavors include honeydew melon, white, peaches, cherries, and strawberries. There is a medium body, refreshing and saturated across the palate, good balance and acidity, and a minerally full finish.

 

Food pairings would include sole, halibut, swordfish, mussels,  seafood pasta, soups, and salads, pork, chicken, Asian chicken, pork, and vegetable dishes, Thai noodle dishes, seafood and chicken enchiladas, pork verde, and green salads.

 

Passe Colline Ventoux Rosé 2020 (OF, NF)

 

This is a blend of 95% Grenache, 4% Carignan, and 1% Syrah.  Aromas include strawberries, honeydew melon, ripe peaches, and pomegranate.  Flavors include cantaloupe, raspberries, and cherries.  There is a medium body but which is fully saturated across the palate, perfect balance and acidity, and a very minerally and refreshing full finish.

 

Food pairings would include crab, shrimp, clams, salmon, seafood soups and pasta, pasta with light tomato sauces, chicken, Mexican pork and chicken dishes, Thai noodle dishes, spring rolls, charcuterie, and medium to rich cheeses. 

Passe Colline Ventoux Rouge 2019 (OF, NF)

This is a blend of 44% Grenache, 42% Syrah, and 14% Mourvedre.  Aromas are of rich plums, dark cherries, ripe strawberries, and pomegranate.  Flavors include blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries, dark cherries, and hints of dark chocolate.  There is a medium body, good balance and acidity, a full finish, and minerality from the granite slopes of Mont Ventoux which complement the flavors and result in a lot of versatile food pairings.

 

Food pairings would include New York steak, rib eye, roast beef, short ribs, burgers, pork roast, pork chops, pork shoulder, grilled chicken, coq au vin, duck, swordfish, mussels, Asian beef and pork stir fry, Mexican beef dishes, Indian lamb dishes, cassoulet, jambalaya, charcuterie, and hard cheeses.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Labels

As described earlier, the Southern Rhone selections are from small growers throughout the area but, as you will see on the labels below, all of the labels have the words "Artisans Vignerons" on the labels and some also include "RhoneA" which is the name of a very innovative organization in the Southern Rhone.  RhoneA is the insightful evolution of what had been some cooperative wineries in the area where small growers would jointly use the wine making facilities.

 

The first stage in the RhoneA development was to create first class facilities with state of the art vinification equipment that small growers could use to maximize the expressiveness and quality of wines made in the area.  The next stage in the evolution was the creation of the Artisans Vignerons program where RhoneA oenologists would identify outstanding vineyard sites throughout the Southern Rhone where the small growers had traditionally just sold their grapes to the large "negociants" in the area.  Those negociants would then unfortunately just blend away such high quality fruit that could have expressed "a sense of place" into mass produced wines without any link to the dedicated and conscientious growers.

The Artisans Vignerons program allows such growers to make very expressive and distinctive wines.  These are also effectively single parcel wines expressing the high quality vineyards sites of the small growers, many of whom whose families have owned those vineyards for over 100 years.  The partnership between wUst, RhoneA, and the small growers has also been very successful.  Clients and consumers here have recognized the high quality and expressiveness of the wines as being very different from the mass produced wines that are typically exported from the Southern Rhone.

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ET - Héritage Rhonéa - CDR - 75 cl 2015.
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