My Favorite Wine…this week anyway. March 23, 2018

2016 Domaine Berthet-Rayne

Cotes du Rhone Blanc

Regular Price $16.99

Sale Price $12.99

For the last 20 years of so, arguably the best wines for the buck have come from the southern Rhone Valley. It was one for the few times that the wine press got it right; the wines were rich and full and vivacious, the best wines for Americans’, raised on fruit-forward wines, to broaden their wine horizons. What the critics missed were the Cotes du Rhone whites, probably for two reasons; availability (only 3% of the wines made in the southern Rhone are white) and critics’ bias.

Wine critics don’t taste wines the way the public consumes wines. The public largely consumes wine at a somewhat leisurely pace, with or without food, and the wine changes in the glass during the period of consumption. The setting is typically relaxed and often convivial. Critics, on the other hand, will set out to taste dozens of wines in a single setting, giving each wine a single taste before spitting and moving on to the next wine. Ergo, fuller, dramatic, higher alcohol wines stand out. There is no context, no conviviality that makes wine consumption pleasant.

So back to southern Rhone whites…these wines, when well made, are full and rich, but usually unoaked, with flavors that don’t shout. Often accused of lacking fruit flavors, the wines show nutty and ‘cereal’ aromas and flavors and none of the caramel, vanilla and buttery notes typical to other wines of this weight and viscosity. In the case of the wine, made of 45 % Clairette, 45 % Bourboulenc,  and 10 % Grenache blanc, floral and herbaceous aromas dominate. Its wonderfully aromatic, with rich exotic flavors filling your mouth. The wines finishes crisply and cleanly, encouraging another sip.

This is a wine to savor, a wine that delights and intrigues. But it’s not a wine that wine critics can judge fairly or adequately. Come to think of it, that true of all wines.