The Rhône Valley region of France runs in a narrow band from Burgundy to its north to Provence to its south, and is one of the oldest wine-growing areas in France. It comprises two distinct areas—the Northern Rhône Valley and the Southern Rhône Valley, both of which are along the Rhône River. Different styles of wines are produced in each area, but both are known predominantly for red wines.
The Northern Rhône Valley is known for its red wines, produced from Syrah, and white wines, produced from Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne.
In the Southern Rhône Valley, over two dozen red grape varieties are permitted, and most wines are a blend of at least three. The predominant variety here is Grenache, which represents about two-thirds of the red grape plantings. The other significant red varieties in this area are Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault. As for white grape varieties, Grenache Blanc and Clairette are the more significant plantings, with smaller plantings of Viognier, Ugni Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Muscat, and others.
The grape varieties listed above represent those that are known as “Rhône varieties.” This term is used on label descriptions in the United States to assist consumers in recognizing wines produced from these specific grapes, and perhaps Rhône styles of wines.
One wine made from Rhône varieities that we are featuring at City Vino this Saturday, March 7, 2020, hails from the Buhl Memorial Vineyards, located in Wilcox in Cochise County, Arizona, and is the Merkin Vineyards Chupacabra 2018. The Chupacabra is the winery’s shape shifter wine. Each vintage brings a new proportion of grapes in the red blend depending on that year’s crop. The 2018 Chupacabra is comprised of 65 percent Syrah, 20 percent Mourvèdre, and 15 percent Grenache. The wine was aged in new and neutral French oak for 11 months. This wine has sweet, juicy black fruit, like plum and blackberry, on the balance with a finished alcohol level of 13.5 percent. The winemaker, Maynard James Keenan, is the vocalist for “Tool,” the progressive metal band. Pairings for this wine involve just about anything that is grilled whether sausage, burgers or vegetables. It also pairs well with slow-cooked stew and casseroles.
Our second featured wine this Saturday will be the Clos LaChance 22 Pirates Red Blend 2017, and comes from the Central Coast of California. This wine is a blend of 60 percent Syrah, 18 percent Petite Sirah, 9 percent Grenache, 7 Percent Carignane, and 6 percent Cinsault. This wine is dark garnet in color, with aromas of milk chocolate truffles, caramel, and warm baking spices. On the palate, you may find dark plum and blackberries, with hint of oregano and mint. This is a full-bodied wine with a long finish. This is a wine to pair with earthy flavors like mushrooms, whether alongside a steak, in a risotto or grilled. Other fine pairings include lamb stew and lentils with sausage.
Finally, our third featured wine will be the Corne Loup Tavel Rose 2019. This dry rosé comes from the Tavel AOC in the Southern Rhône Valley, where the only wines allowed to be produced are rosés. This wine is comprised of 60 percent Grenache; 15 percent Cinsault; 10 percent Syrah; and the remaining 15 percent is a mix of Mourvèdre, Clairette & Carignan. The wine is dry and lively, with aromas of strawberry and berry pie. While this wine makes for wonderful sipping along with great conversation, it is also a great wine to pair with barbeques.
If you are interested in exploring white wine from the Rhône Valley, while it is not part of our Saturday tasting, we do have the Domaine Corne Loup Lirac Blanc 2018. This wine is a blend of 40 percent Grenache Blanc, 35 percent Viognier, and 25 percent Marsanne. On the nose, there are aromas of stone fruit like peaches and apricots, lemon, and a hint of sea salt. The wine is rich with flavors of bees’ wax, apple, peach, apricot and wet stone.
Come explore Rhône varieties with us!