Wines from Rhone, France’s second largest region after Bordeaux

If you are grilling at home any of the southern Rhones below will work well. I’ve included one white in case you are cooking fish or would like an aperitif.

This week I’m focusing on the southern Rhone or Cotes du Rhone to be specific which is France’s second largest region after Bordeaux with over 56,000 hectares under vines. 

There are some large village appellations here that you have definitely heard of – Chateauneuf-du-Pape; Gigondas; Vacqueyras; and perhaps Beaumes de Venise (famous for its sweet muscat and a ripe fleshy red).

Grenache is the main grape here and Cotes du Rhone must contain at least 40% of the grape with the remainder made up of syrah, mourvèdre, cinsault and carignan (hopefully old vine). 

Besides the famous villages, the region is a mix of co-ops and small producers and a few large négociants such as Guigal and Chapoutier who buy in grapes as well as having their own vineyards.

Co-operatives like the large one in the village of Rasteau can be very reliable with good vineyard sites and old vines (see below) but better still are smaller co-ops like Les Vignerons d’Estézargues. 

I visited them a number of years ago and the wines have been on my radar ever since. They are always excellent.

Estézargues was founded in the 1960s with just 10 family owned small estates, the same members as today. 

They are around 70% organic and generally progressive. For example, since 1998 they have only used sulphur in the production of wine at the bottling stage.

Domaine Chaume-Arnaud is a good example of the small quality producers in the region. 

Valérie and Phillippe Chaume-Arnaud. They farm 13.5ha around the village of Vinsobres and are fully organic/ bio-dynamic with their younger vines 30 years old and up to 65 years old for their carignan (used in the Vinsobres wine below).

If you are in Dublin this weekend the Big Grill Festival in Herbert Park is worth a visit with many fine craft beer producers on site such as Blacks Kinsale and 8 Degrees. 

If you are grilling at home any of the southern Rhones below will work well. 

I’ve included one white in case you are cooking fish or would like an aperitif. 

Only a tiny proportion of the region produces white wine.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Les Amies Chanteuses, Cotes du Rhone, France - €13.99

Wines from Rhone, France’s second largest region after Bordeaux

Stockists: Ardkeen, No. 21 Group, 1 Pery Sq. wines shop, Green Man Terenure, Jus de Vine Portmarnock, www.searsons.com Bradleys, 1601.

From the small high-quality co-op Les Vignerons d’Estezargues with just 10 growers. This is syrah, grenache and mourvèdre with fine light smoky red and darker fruit aromas. All the wines from this co-op are worth investigating and have the added bonus of attractive labels!

Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone Blanc - €14.99

Wines from Rhone, France’s second largest region after Bordeaux

Stockists: Martins, O’Briens, Molloys, WineOnline.ie, Independents, widely available.

Chapoutier is one of the big boys but very consistent. A blend of grenache blanc, clairette and bourboulenc with light peach and floral aromas, ripeness and crisp acidity and a good example of its type.

Santa Duc Les Plans, Vin de Pays de Vaucluse 2011 - €13.99

Wines from Rhone, France’s second largest region after Bordeaux

Stockists: Bradleys Cork, Green Man Wines, Fallon & Byrne, The Corkscrew, Le Caveau Kilkenny www.lecaveau.ie 

This is a blend of 50% grenache with some syrah, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Fragrant sweet plums and soft earthy blackberries.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Domaine Chaume-Arnaud, Vinsobres 2011, Rhone, France - €20.49-21.49

Wines from Rhone, France’s second largest region after Bordeaux

Stockists: Bradleys Cork, Green Man Wines, Fallon & Byrne, The Corkscrew, Le Caveau Kilkenny www.lecaveau.ie 

A blend of grenache, syrah, cinsault and mourvèdre but mainly grenache I suspect. Demeter certified bio-dynamic with aromas of spice and soft red and black fruits, lingering iodine and liquorice hints and a supple blackberry finish. Sumptuous and hugely likeable.

Domaine Chaume-Arnaud Cotes du Rhone 2013, France - €16.95

Wines from Rhone, France’s second largest region after Bordeaux

Stockists: Bradleys Cork, Green Man Wines, Fallon & Byrne, The Corkscrew, Le Caveau Kilkenny www.lecaveau.ie 

This is the baby brother of the Vinsobres above and is also made with bio-dynamic grapes. While it is two years younger and noticeably lighter this is still a charmer with light smoky aromas mixed with blackberry.

Les Hauts du Village Rasteau 2010, Rhone, France - €20.45

Wines from Rhone, France’s second largest region after Bordeaux

Stockist: O’Briens stores nationwide www.wine.ie 

A blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre from the village of Rasteau Co-op which has some very old 100 year old vines on decent slopes.


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