Tasting Notes, March 7, 2020 Rhone Valley:North v. South

The Rhone Valley has long been recognized as one of finest wine regions of France, as well as home to sensational wine values. But unbeknownst to many, there are two separate and distinct  Rhone Valleys; the North and the South, each growing different grapes and making wines of differing styles. We’re pairing off 6 different wines, exploring what makes each set interesting, unique and enjoyable.

Domaine Grand Veneur  ‘Les Champauvins’ Cotes du Rhone  2016

Regular Price $26.99 

Sale price $20.99

This is a big and rich and concentrated CdR that frankly overdelivers (if you like big, rich and concentrated). It sports all the classic Southern Rhone flavors; black pepper and herbs and dense black  berries. Made of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre, it is very much an illustration of the modern CdR.

Lionel Faury Syrah IGP Collines Rhodaniennes 2018

Regular Price $27.99

Sale price $21.99

This wine, made of 100% Syrah, is nearly underwhelming by comparison. But what it lacks in viscosity, it makes up in complexity. Its fresh and bright with lovely floral and dark plummy fruit flavors and although it never shouts, it absolutely satisfies.

Domaine Richaud Cairanne  2017

Regular Price $34.99

Sale price $27.99

Marcel Richaud took over the family’s wines 45 years ago and promptly changed everything; he no longer sold to the local cooperative, began farming organically, lowered yields, hand harvested and used only natural yeasts. An early proponent of the ‘natural’ wine movement (since the early 90s), his wines are nonetheless bright and rich and delicious. A blend of  Grenache and Mourvèdre (with a bit of Syrah and Carignan) from one of the finest areas in the Southern Rhone,

Yann Chave ‘Le Rouvre’ Crozes-Hermitage  2017

Regular Price $42.99 

Sale price $33.99 

Yann Chave took over his parents’ vineyards in 1996, but after experiencing poisoning caused by insecticide sprayed in the vineyards, began converting to organic farming in 2000, completing the transition in 2007. This 100% Syrah is from various plots located in ancient, dry riverbeds, blended to deliver a seamless and elegant wine with floral and herbal aromas supported by cassis flavors and integrated tannins. This is a wine that will age gracefully over the short-term.

Eric Texier ‘Vieille Vignes’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016

Regular Price $79.99 

Sale price $63.99

Eric Texier is a revolutionary, who set out to change the world of wine by focusing relentlessly on the past. He’s resurrected generations old vineyards in Brezeme, working with the generational wisdom of the local growers. He’s a scientist (and engineer) who ascribes to biodynamic techniques, except for the one’s that don’t make sense to him. His vineyards (and those from which he purchases grapes) are organic, but won’t use those allowable substances (like copper) that he considers intrusive. But, most of all, he wants his wines to speak of the vineyard AND be enjoyable. This wine is of 95% Grenache from La Crau, one of the finest sites in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and sees no new oak. It’s a delicious and revolutionary throwback.

JLChave ‘Farconnet’ Hermitage  2015

Regular Price $81.99

Sale price $64.99

The Chave family have been making wine in the Northern Rhone for over 500 years; they rightfully sit among France’s wine royalty. This wine is from the JL Chave Selection line, which uses purchased fruit along with those of the families holdings, to offer a greater quantity of wine at more affordable prices. The wine itself is classic Hermitage syrah; dense, complex, smokey, bloody, tannic and rich. This wine has some bottle age (its a ‘15) and as it spends time in barrique, is quite friendly, it will nonetheless become more supple and subtle with more ‘cellar time.’

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