THERE ARE JUST 12 of THESE . . .
The author of The Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson was also a serious wine geek. He visited many of the wine regions of France including the Rhone Valley. That’s ONE justification for this “4th of July Rhone Valley Sampler”!
How about another? Reds of the Southern Rhone are particularly great with fare cooked over flame. Are you declaring your right to grill on the 4th? You’d do well to equip yourself with this Sampler!
It’s no secret: I love the wines of the Southern Rhone. I’m betting TWELVE of you also love them enough to commit to a special case I’ve just put together. To avoid a higher total price, this “sampler” purposefully avoids Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Instead, it celebrates a nice concession by this wine region: Chateauneuf’s neighbors make very good, more affordable wines using the exact same grape varieties.
Just TWELVE of these Southern Rhone Samplers have been packed and prepared for your pick-up. Within each, there are no duplicates - in order to provide diversity within the regional theme.
266.99 plus tax (no further discounts) gets you the following dozen bottles:
2016 Domaine de Beaurenard - Rasteau Beaurenard is a famous producer of Chateauneuf-du-Pape who also makes this more affordable red from Rasteau, a village just north of there. 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah made the old school way, in large ‘foudre’ barrels and cement vats. A sturdy impact red in search of juicy proteins with the enhancement of smoke. Always a winner.
2017 Domaine de Bernardins - Beames de Venise 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, and 5% Grenache Blanc (!) play here. “BdV” is one village away from Vacqueyras and is historically better known for its sweet Muscat wines. This dry red is super fragrant; sporting exotic, nearly Northern Rhone-like qualities. It’s one of my fave Rhone reds regardless of price, and only barely gets to California.
2016 Arnoux - Vacqueyras Vacqueyras is one village away from Gigondas (ALL of these villages are very near each other!). This example is deeply-colored and -scented. It is rich and smooth, and in its youth prefers a little air to fully express itself. An intense Grenache-based red from the phenomenal 2016 vintage. Great value.
2016 Chateau de Montmirail ‘Beauchamp’ Gigondas The village of Gigondas is second only to Chateauneuf-du-Pape in popularity and esteem. Of its many producers, Chateau de Montmirail has graced our shelves the most often over the years. This dependable red especially shines in the great 2016 vintage. No-brainer!
2016 Bastide St. Vincent ‘Pavane’ – Vacqueyras Just arrived: New vintage of an old friend. ‘Pavane’ always nails it, especially in 2016. Compared with the Arnoux example, I’d say ‘Pavane’ shows more “spine” of structure. It might just be a 10-year wine! 75% G, 15% M, 10% S. No oak. Doesn’t need it!
2017 Arnoux Cairanne Leave one southern Rhone village and in 5 minutes you’re traversing another! Cairanne is among the most recently-upgraded “Cotes du Rhone Villages” to loftier “AOC,” so let’s pay it some due. 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre. Lots of dark, sappy (albeit balanced) fruit. We’re just starting to see 2017’s and are already loving them. Mother Nature gave the region a much smaller crop in ’17, but paid back in QUALITY. The Rhone’s on a roll!
2016 Chateau Unang – Ventoux During my recent vacation in the Rhone we ate a big lunch in Beaumes de Venise, waddled back to our rental cars, and drove about forty minutes to Ventoux (a “satellite” of the Rhone) to visit Chateau Unang. The wines here are leaner and more vibrant than the typical Gigondas or Vacqueyras, but do not shirk flavor or character. This wine will actually age very well. 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault.
2015 Chateau de Beaupre – Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Technically, the Rhone Valley is in Northern Provence, but this wine departs from there to Provence “proper,” from which we are usually only accessing dry rosé wines. However, the Provençal don’t drink just pink, as this classy red wine attests. Here, the Rhone’s Syrah is represented as half of the blend. The other half is devoted to Bordeaux’s Cabernet Sauvignon. Yes, this kind of thing DOES happen down here. The wine is very balanced and elegant, and a great candidate for food.
2016 Domaine de la Mordoree ‘La Reine des Bois’ – Lirac Everything made by this producer is impressive for its fruit power and durability. Lirac is the region directly across the Rhone River from Chateauneuf-du-Pape (which this producer also makes). Equal parts Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre happen here. So do 95 points from Jeb Dunnuck. This is the whopper wine of the sampler!
2016 Domaine de la Mordoree ‘Remise’ – Vin de France The ‘Vin de France’ term is all this Rhone producer can legally append, since this wine’s blend doesn’t comply with “Cotes du Rhone” restrictions. Here happens 40% Marselan, which is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. That’s one disqualifier, as is the 40% Merlot component. A 20% Grenache contribution seems to be the only “normal” one, but when you smell and taste this rustic red you’re sure to say, “Yep, that’s RHONE!”
2016 Clefs des Murailles – Vacqueyras You see so much Vacqueyras on our shelves these days because of that village’s ability to provide lots of character for a price much lower than Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and a bit lower than next-door Gigondas. Most of the Vacqueyras bottlings we stock happen between $22 and $30, a range a lot of you are willing to shop. This 2016 is quite elegant, lithe, and very scented. 70% Grenache, plus Syrah, Mourvédre, and Cinsault.
2016 Mourgues du Gres ‘Terre d’Argence’ – Costières de Nimes This Rhone subregion lies to the southwest of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and closer to the Mediterranean. As are many reds of this area, ‘Argence’ is based on Syrah, complemented by Grenache. A bit of Mourvèdre and Carignan might also play. This is terrific, “grown up” food red, suitable for game, stews, lamb with thyme, or ribeye.
“Thank you for your appreciation!” - Gigondas Jim