This month I am reviewing some Côtes du Rhône wines, and researching (just a bit) more about this region, and also it relationship with the Grenache grape.
It has always slightly confused me why some French wines are labelled by the grape, and some by the region. I was reminded about the relationship between regions and grapes from the latest post on French Wine Tutor. If you recall, this was my favourite blog from those listed in the Feedspot article. I follow her (Katie) on Instagram and recently there was a post about Grenache wines. The post was posted on September 16th which apparently is International Grenache Day. (I Googled this and it is true. I do like learning these little details, it is one of the reasons why I do this blog). Here is the blog post. As Katie says, few wines actually are labelled ‘Grenache’ (although one of my favourites is the Plume Syrah-Grenache reviewed here). In that post, I quote Robert Joseph who says that Grenache is ‘The peppery grape of Côtes du Rhône’. So I will be reviewing some later.
There are two Côtes du Rhône in the French Wine Tutor list. Interesting to see how expensive they can be in the US ($15 and $20). Especially when compared to buying in France.
Note that one is just a Côtes du Rhône, and one is a Côtes du Rhône Villages. What is the difference?
Firstly, Côtes du Rhône in general. This is the area along the Rhône river goes down from Lyon to the Mediterranean sea between Montpellier and Marseille.
What about Côtes du Rhône Villages? With some help from Wikipedia…
‘Côtes-du-Rhône Villages is a French wine Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the southern Rhône wine region of France. The quality is superior to the generic Côtes-du-Rhône AOC, but below more specific appellations such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC and Vacqueyras AOC. Côtes-du-Rhône Villages is the second largest appellation in the Rhône, only surpassed in size by Côtes-du-Rhône AOC‘. ‘Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages was established as AOC in 1966-1967.’
Some of the Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages that I have tried, have their own ‘village specific’ name on the label. (For example, Plan de Dieu, Rasteau, and Cairanne).
‘Under stricter requirements than for the Côtes du Rhône Villages, twenty of the communes of the appellation are authorized to append their respective village name on the label.’
Right from my first Yorkshire wine school event, where Côtes du Rhône was recommended as a good value red wine, (particularly compared to some Bordeaux) and also how the Plan de Dieu was liked so much at the Avenue HQ wine tasting event. I have always bought some back from France to try. (I have not always got round to reviewing them here).
I have often bought more of that wine when at Auchan in Boulogne.
The label also had ‘Les Chenes Verts’ and ‘Domaine Martin’ on it, so in goes ‘Les Chenes Verts Domaine Martin’ into Google to see what came up.
Firstly, I did see the Plan de Dieu CDR Villages for sale in UK wine shops. On sale for £14.99. A lot more than the €6.40 that I paid. (Note that on my last trip to France, some of my other favourite wines had gone up 10%, so this wine will probably have gone up about the same amount).
Apparently, this wine has had good reviews by critics and has won some awards. It is also included in the Sunday Times Wine Club, where they describe it as a “silky, warming red and its waves of ripe, velvety fruit, wild herbs and smoky complexity”
Good to note how they describe the wine. This is still something that I struggle with. But I am pleased that I did come to the same conclusion as the more expert reviewers that it is a very nice wine, before reading their reviews.
I have bought two wines that I tried with the ‘Les Chenes Verts Domaine Martin’ label on at Auchan. A Rasteau and a Cairanne. These are Côtes du Rhône villages that can put their own name. I did not fully review these but the Cairanne in particular I remember as not liking at all. I did see a Rasteau from a different producer, so that is included in this months reviews. First one with Mary, on a trip to the Edinburgh festival, the other two just by me.
Plan de Dieu
- Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhône Villages
- Around £7 at Lidl
Aroma: Delicate and subtle. Fruity, but not overpowering.
Taste: Nice and smooth. Elegance but strength and depth, slightly oaky, overall very good.Paul
Aroma: Delicate, pleasant, slightly sweet. Raspberry notes.
Taste: Nice and mild, not sour, nice, and warm, no sharpness. Damson flavour.Mary
- Pierre Chaneau Rasteau
- €6.60 at Auchan
I am not doing a full review of this. I did not like it. I found it sour, bitter, and generally unpleasant. Could the high alcohol level (14.5%) be a factor?Paul
Côtes du Rhône
- Domaine de Givaudan Garnet Côtes du Rhône
- Around €7 at Auchan
Aroma: Smooth and elegant, very nice. Not too dark, lighter fruits. A subtle spice.
Taste: Silky smooth. Again, subtle and delicate. Lighter raspberry fruits, but with depth. Very nice indeed.
(Apologies for the out of focus image. FYI blending of grape is 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah.)Paul
I have learnt some interesting things this month. Firstly, September 16th is International Grenache day. And that I often like the Grenache grape, especially when mixed with the Syrah grape. The previously reviewed Plume, Plan de Dieu, and the Domaine de Givaudan Garnet Côtes du Rhône (CDR) I like a lot. (But not always as I did not like the Rasteau).
I learnt not to worry too much if my reviews are not full of lots of descriptive texts. Looking at some other reviews, just a few words such as ‘soft’, peppery’, velvety fruit’, and ‘smoky complexity’ are sufficient.
I have also learnt about Côtes du Rhône Villages, and how some of the ‘villages’ have their own name on the label. Examples of villages that I have tried are Plan de Dieu, Rasteau, and Cairanne. And I will disagree with Wikipedia article where it says ‘The quality is superior to the generic Côtes-du-Rhône AOC,’ It isn’t always.
I do like Plan de Dieu, but not the Rasteau and the Cairanne. I assumed before that ‘Villages’ are superior to the other Côtes du Rhône wines. I have learnt that this is not true. Interesting to see from the prices on the French Wine Tutor’s list that the non- Villages wine is more expensive. For the wines reviewed here, although I liked the Plan de Dieu, the Domaine de Givaudan Garnet Côtes du Rhône is my favourite. But of course you must try yourself and make up your own mind.