I like puns and stupid jokes, so get used to that.
If I can make you roll your eyes with a blog title then I feel I've accomplished everything I wanted to.
We're jumping back into great wines that seem intimidating because they have unfamiliar words with little squiggles over letters and such, but I assure you, they're not all as daunting as they seem.
First off, I hope you are used to european wines being named after the region by now, because this one is no different. Côtes du Rhône translates to "Sides of the Rhone," which makes sense because...Well, the vineyards are located on the hills that line the Rhone river. Simple enough right?
Snaking it's way through southern France, the Rhone has seen it's share of History. From the Celts of early Gaul, to the Roman Empire (duh, those guys took over everything) in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, to the France we know and love today.
So it makes sense that the wine too would have a complex and storied past. It's a story that tells of sweeping winds, and sun soaked hills. It tells of popes and Caesars, of blights and thriving harvests alike. And while I wish I could go into all of that, I'm not going to. You can Google it on your own if you're so inclined.
Côtes du Rhônes are blends of anywhere up to about 20 different grape varietals, however the main ones that you'll find are Grenache (Gren-Osh), Syrah (Seer-Ah), and Mourvedre (Move-Ed-Drah) which you will often see abbreviated as a GSM. Cinsault (Sin-So) is another one you will commonly find in Rhone wines.
Depending on where in the Rhone Valley the vineyard is located, you will find a higher concentration of one grape or another. This is simply because the Terroir of the different areas lend themselves better to one grape or another. (For a quick overview of what Terroir is, take a look back at my earlier post on Cahors)
So for example: The northern portion of the Rhone valley does better with Syrah grapes, so wines from there will have a higher concentration of that. However, in the southern portion, grapes like Grenache, and Cinsault do better, so there may be a higher concentration of these in the wine. It's not a hard and fast rule but it's an easy way to impress your friends and make you sound smart. ("Oh, I see this Cotes Du Rhone you brought is 70% Syrah, it must be from the northing region..." People will either think you're super smart...Or just a prick...So use good judgement when pulling out this info in front of people.)
So here's the deal. There are so dang many different wines, that are all their own unique beast when it comes to Rhones. So instead of trying to delve into them all, or to try to make a really broad blanket statement about what they taste like, I'm just going to talk about one, and then challenge you to start going out and trying others to see what you like and don't like. I think this is the first time I'm officially giving you homework!
NOW THE WINE:
I'm going to tell you briefly about one of my favorites for under $15. The wine is Famille Perrin Réserve Cótes Du Rhóne and it's awesome! It's a medium bodied, full flavored, high-five you when you need it kind of wine! The kind of wine that makes you say things like "Yee-Haw!" and "Hot damn!" and all kinds of other exciting southern sounding things! ...Alright I'll level with you, I probably haven't ever said any of those things when I drank this, but I sure felt them. This is a situation where you pour a glass and get ready to smile.
Personally I love this wine with BBQ, but I also live in Nashville, so I probably just like a lot of things with BBQ. It has that rich, deep red that you want to melt into, and sensual dark fruit notes, with a little bit of vanilla and spice...and a hint of earthiness on the finish that makes it pair so well with some smoked pork, or slow cooked brisket, and a tangy sauce with a little kick to it. Truth be told I'm writing this at 9:30pm and kind of skipped dinner, so I'm hungry and not helping myself out right now...
I like this wine because it's so classically French. While it has a fancy name that's hard to say, and complex flavors that bring to mind gondola rides and romantic words whispered into the ear of a lover, it's also inexpensive and totally just a wine you could pick up to have with your baguette while you sit in the park and listen to music or read. It has a spark of elegance with a touch of everyday casualness. It's beautifully mundane, and I love it for that.
This is a great foot in the door if you're looking to get into french wines but have no idea how to get going. They can be hard and honestly pretty intimidating if you don't know where to start. So let me help you. Start here, and then go forth and drink!
As always, boire sur! (Drink on!)