As we approach our fifth anniversary of E-Wine “mini-lessons”, let’s consider a fifth of red wine from one of the world’s greatest wine regions and discover a bargain blend.
Read about the upcoming February “After Work Wine Tastings” in Fayetteville and Little Rock in James Cripps’ “Wine Junkie Report” at www.brucecochran.com. We’ll be tasting wines at 5 p.m. Monday at Pesto Café in Fayetteville. You can taste four different wines for $10.
My weekly wine broadcast The Wine Show will be live as usual this Friday morning at 11:30 on KABF FM 88.3, streamed live via the internet at www.kabf883.org
Try a new wine this week!
The South of France
“The South of France” taken literally covers a lot of ground. The French Alps in the east border Italy and Switzerland and on the western side the Pyrenees Mountains tumble into the Atlantic south of Bordeaux.
In between these mountain ranges, southern France is almost one contiguous vineyard, a wide area known generally as the Midi or “middle.”
But what that phrase brings to mind for most people is the southeast, where the wide Rhone River flows south past sunny, stony vineyards on its way to the Mediterranean Sea. For many wine lovers, this area defines the Mediterranean climate and the grapes that thrive there.
Along the northern Rhone, the syrah grape is the most important, especially for the famous wines Cote-Rotie (“roasted slope”) and nearby Hermitage. Each will often contain a small amount of white wine grapes for complexity, but they’re typically deep enough in color that they don’t appear diluted at all.
While these wines can be quite expensive, they have neighbors that are perhaps less great, but definitely less expensive. St. Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage.
The southern Rhone’s best known wine is a much more blended red called Chateauneuf du Pape (“new house of the pope”) made near the ancient city of Avignon. Of the 13 grape varieties allowed, Grenache usually represents the highest percentage. Chateauneuf du Pape also has a “better-bargain” neighbor, called Gigondas.
But the house wine of the region, at least for export, is named simply for the slopes of the river, “Cotes du Rhone.” It’s often a good wine at a good price, something increasingly difficult to find from Europe in these days of the low dollar. One good example of a Cotes du Rhone that I enjoyed recently is Les Garrigues, distributed by Lee Edwards Distributing. It retails in stores for around $12 to $15.