Wine Blogging Wednesday #19 When in Rhone Roundup

Wine Blogging Wednesday LogoPut down that glass of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Napa Valley Cabernet, or Oregon Pinot Noir and spend a moment with the wines of the Rhone. Contained within this post is some of the best information on Rhone varietal wine I have come across. Participation in this months event was great, and included a ton of first timers. Blends, odd varietals, new world, old world, they all made it in. For the roundup I’ll be providing a teaser and a link, so you’ll have to go to the original posts for more enlightenment. The posts are in order received.

A big thanks to all who participated, this was a fun one. Thanks Lenn at Lenndevours for letting me host, it’s really a privilege. If you haven’t signed up to play host yet, do (even if it means you’re on the calendar for 2008).

Let the roundup begin!

The first entry came from Professor Bainbridge. Steve used a site called Blog Carnival to submit his entry, which makes a handy little snippet of code to cut and paste. It takes the personal aspect out of the round-up, but what the heck, here it is:
Steve Bainbridge, at Professor Bainbridge on Wine, presents Domain de Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (Rhone Valley) 2002.

Ed Charles, editor of Tomato magazine out of Melbourne, dove into a French Rhone producers Australian effort, when he tried the M Chapoutier Mount Benson, Syrah (Shiraz) Australia. With 200 years of winemaking experience, this bottle plays off it’s grassroots while tapping into the Australian terrior. Ed describes it as “a well-balanced wine with all those smoky ripe flavours from dark-skinned summer fruits without too much boof.” Check out his post on the Tomato blog,

Feel like pairing a Cigar with your wine? Edan does just that on Humiblog.com when he finds a nice match for a Romeo Y Julieta Cigar; an affordable 2004 Grenache house wine from his local French grocer. He also makes a good observation, in that the origin of this varietal was originally Spain, where it is referred to as Garnacha. The notes on this one sound delicious.

Over at Andreea’s wine blog two white wines from France were tasted. She indulged in a 1994 Chapoutier Ermitage Cuvee de l’Oree, Marsanne, a wine Robert Parker gave 99pts, and a 1994 J.L. Chave Hermitage Blanc, a Marsanne – Rousanne blend, both at around the 100 euro price point. Where they good? Check out her post to find out.

Mark Fischer of the Dayton Daily News blog decided to change the name of this months theme to “Revenge of the Rhones”. I wrestled with that theme, along with “Episode II: Attack of the Rhones” as an ode to George Lucas, but I settled on “When in Rhone” for a reason, namely this song right here (opens iTunes). Mark settles on the 2001 Edmunds St. John Los Robles Viejos from Paso Robles, CA and finds it to be quite European in profile. You can find Mark’s tasting notes on this Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, Counoise blend here.

Now we find an epiphany from Tami at running with tweezers, who normally dismisses French wine as tasting like pencil erasers. She opened a Rhone blend she purchased because of the label, the Cellier des Dauphins Cotes du Rhone, and is now a Rhone convert. My work here is done.

The 2002 Clos du Caillou Côtes du Rhône found it’s way onto Nicholas’ table at pint and fork. As the name suggests, this is normally just a blog on food and beer, but he decided to venture into wine this week, picking up a seemingly standard bottle of wine. He comments, “What I didn’t expect was how interesting the wine would be.” Sounds like this won’t be his last WBW.

Michelle from Where the Sidewalk Begins is a first timer with regard to WBW and Rhone wines. She enjoyed a 2003 Domaine La Remejeanne Cotes du Rhone and states that “It was a good introduction to the Rhone style of wine. I can’t wait to try others.”

A relatively new blogger, WebWino at Vino Keeno, posted notes on The 2004 d’Arenberg Stump Jump blend of Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourvedre. A couple of regular Vino Keeno readers even sent in reviews for this WBW, a 2003 Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone from Wineaux, and a 2002 Lions Peak Viognier from the Grape Lady.

Another first timer, the Gastronomic Fight Club went to Whole Foods and picked up the ever popular 2001 E.Guigal Gigondas, a blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Mourvèdre, and the 2003 E.Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc, but wasn’t blown away by either. Good to know.

Collin (first timer) at See, Sip, Taste, Hear thought he grabbed one of his favorite reds when he bought this magnum of 2004 La Vieille Ferme Côtes du Ventoux, but found out it was Rose and not his beloved Rouge after it splashed into his glass. From the sound of it, La Vieille Ferme makes a better Rouge then Rose.

At Sui Generis’ self titled blog we find a post on the 2003 Goats du Roam White from South Africa. He got his wife involved, and she was able to pick out an aroma of apricots, while he found an “grapefruity tartness” on the palate. The final verdict is here (sort of).

Want a match for Indian food? “A” over at Wine In The Peg found the 2002 Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz-Viognier to be a nice compliment to the Indian feast spread out on the table. But does this Australian effort compare to a Cote Rotie? Read on for the verdict.

Wine blogger extraordinaire, Andy at Spittoon, dropped 6 quid on the 1998 Château Nages Cuvée Torrès, Costières de Nîmes, France, a Roussanne that needed a little food accompaniment. He also found a steal at 10 quid, the 2004 Joubert-Tradauw Syrah, Klein Karoo, South Africa which he rates 94/100.

Is there Rhone style wine in Washington State? You betcha! Josh at Northwest Vinofile found the 2003 McCrea Sirocco Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Counoise blend to be quite nice, check out his write-up.

Jens at CWW decided to try the former Penfolds Grange winemakers Rhone style effort, the 2003 John Duval Plexus, Barossa Valley, Australia. The Cincinnati Wine Warehouse stocked 30 bottles of this stuff last year, but had some trouble keeping it on the shelf (with a 94pt RP score and a $40 price, it probably didn’t last long.)

A good standalone Counoise can be had for $10 from Domaine Monpertuis, the 2003 Vignoble de la Ramiere, Vin de Pays du Gard, Cuvee Counoise, found by Serge the Concierge. Serge also recommends the book “The Wines of the Northern Rhone,” by John Livingstone, for all those thirsty for some more information on the Rhone.

The Caveman tasted two wines, the 2004 D’ Arenberg The Money Spider, McLaren Vale, Australia, and the 2004 D’Arenberg, The Stump Jump, South Australia. This man knows his food and wine, and developed a meal to go with these bottles which both turned out better than expected.

Wine for Newbies, the relatively new wine podcast hosted by Bill, wrote about two bottles as well. The 2002 Chateau Maris La Linivoire La Touge rated 9/10 on his scale, followed by a 2004 Fess Parker Viognier that rated the same. He’ll be releasing a Rhone Wine for Newbies podcast soon, so stay tuned.

Wish you where in France doing this tasting? So does Doktor Weingolb. But Marcus stopped day dreaming and was able to scramble at the last minute to participate in his first WBW. He found the 2002 Cellier des Dauphins Prestige Côtes-du-Rhône, a Grenache / Syrah blend in a 250ml bottle with a screw cap for $4.50, and a white of the same name that uses the exact same label. Now that’s cost effective! Find out which was good and which was plonk on his post.

A wine blogging veteran, Alder Yarrow of Vinography, thoroughly enjoyed the 2000 Pride Mountain Vineyards Syrah, Sonoma, CA and captures the essence of how to enjoy good wine when he says ” This wine, unfortunately, is nearly impossible to find. I recommend having a good friend with a bottle, and then having that bottle with a good friend.” Lot’s of good info on this wine and winery here.

Dr.Vino had the pleasure of being at the Kermit Lynch portfolio tasting where he scored a 2004 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Papes barrel sample that turned out to be a “serious wine.” He also enjoyed a 2004 Chateauneuf du Papes White that was a blend of 40% Clairette, 30% Grenache blanc, and 15% each Roussanne and Bourboulenc.

Armed with my original post and an article from Food and Wine Magazine on Rhone Reds, the Culinary Fool settled on the 2003 Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone, a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, and 20% Syrah. Tragedy struck when she realized she was a week early, causing a chain reaction of events that restricted her notes on this wine. A valiant effort nonetheless.

The fantastically long named 2000 Le Clos du Caillou Très Vieilles Vignes Reserve Côtes du Rhône Villages consists primarily of old vine Grenache, and turned out to be a pretty good bottle in the Fork & Bottle duo’s eyes.

If you’ve ever thought about getting off of the couch, jumping in your car, and just driving through your homeland, you’re not alone. Taj from The Cork & Demon is doing just that, all the while centering the trip on wine and blogging about it. She actually found an awesome Rhone varietal wine, the 2004 Colibri ‘Black-Chinned’ Mourvedre, in Arizona of all places. It’s a fun read, and you’ll probably get hooked reading her blog as she reports on all her wine adventures. Cheers Taj, great find!

Our fearless leader and founder of WBW, Lenn of Lenndevours, had to leave the cozy eastern shores he’s used to, and take a virtual trip to sunny California for this installment. He found the 2000 Curtis Winery Heritage Cuvee, Santa Barbara County for $10, a blend of 42% Mourvedre, 35% Syrah, 18% Grenache and 5% Counoise and liked it once it had an edible accompaniment. This winery specializes in Rhone style wines so they’re definitely worth a look.

Coming back to Spain, Dave at the Purple Lips Wine Log writes about the 2001 Marco Real Garnacha, Navarra, Spain. The wine opened up after an hour, and can be had for $10. I’m seeing a trend of rather affordable bottles that open up with a little air…

Finding a food friendly $13 bottle of wine seemed to be an easy task for Beau at Basic Juice, even though he was running out of time for this edition. He found this 2003 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Côtes du Rhône Villages and notes, “after 30+ minutes of open air, the wine reveals black pepper notes and blackberry flavors that dial down the heat on the finish.”

The Corkdork loved his wine so much, he almost finished the bottle before snapping a photo. The wine was a Roussanne / Viognier blend from California, the 2001 Turley White Coat, San Luis Obispo Country. At up to $80, this one isn’t cheap, but the corkdork suggests this instead of a trophy Chardonnay on your next fine dining experience.

Another white blend from California, the 2001 Treana Marsanne (39%) and Viognier (61%) blend, came from Jennifer at Cookin’ in the ‘Cuse and turned out to be a good value at $20. With notes of honey and honeysuckle, this appears to be a nice example of a new world Rhone effort. Treana’s website noted that these grapes were sourced from Mer Soliel. Tres Bien!

Although not to Murrays palate at Wine-Tastic, if you like GSM blends give the 2004 Hewitson “Miss Harry” Barossa Valley, Australia (44% Grenache, 43% Shiraz and 13% Mourvèdre) a try. A huge wine out of the bottle, Murray was drawn more to the up front fruit than to the mellowing of those flavors towards the end of the bottle.

Have you ever had a bottle of 100% Couniose? Catherine at Purple Liquid just had two, the 2003 Domaine Monpertuis Vignoble de la Ramière Cuvée Counoise, and the 2003 Côtes du Rhône-Villages Sablet Domaine de Piaugier Ténébi. Her post has a little history on Couniose. Both of these wines are available from K&L.

The 2003 Delas Côtes du Ventoux Grenache/Syrah/Carignane blend ($10) apparantly gave Kieca at this heaven gives me migraine a less than stellar performance, but good enough for a B-. Hailing from a mountain in France rumored to be responsible for the cold winds of the Rhône, this wine turned out to be a little hot. Go figure.

Almost black in color, the 2003 Côtes du Rhône Domaine “La Garrigue” “Cuvée Romaine at $9 turned out to be “the little Rhone that could” not really be had with food, according to Matthew at No Relation. Maybe it would have been better with a rich beef dish over lasagna, but, it still turned out to be enjoyable.

A Guy, A Girl and a Bottle took their notes for this edition to their podcast. They got a nice recommendation from a local wine shop, GrapeVine, and sampled two bottles.

Dave from AvenueWine has quite an extensive write up on the Rhone Region, the wine he tried, and the food he paired with it, and it’s a really good post, especially for his first WBW entry. The wine was the 2001 Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde de Guigal ($70.00), a Syrah based wine with a touch of Viognier (4%). Mosey on over and drool over the meal of leeks, mushrooms, succulent meat, and creamy risotto.

Digging down into the cellar a bit, Steve from De Long Wine Moment had the 1991 Château Musar Rouge a Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon (wait a sec! disqualified!), and Carignane blend hailing to us from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. I guess this Lebanese wine has a bit of a following in the U.K. and a small one in the U.S. (mainly Cincinnati).

Even though Tim at Winecast has recently tasted some Rhone wines and reviewed them on his podcast, he was up for the challenge this month, grabbing a red and a white from his local retailer. A 2004 Domaine de Piaugier, Sablet Blanc, Côtes du Rhône Villages ($22) blend of 40% Grenache Blanc, 30% Clairette, 20% Viognier, and 10% Roussanne turned out to be good, as did the 2001 Domaine du Trapadis, Côtes du Rhône ($15) which consisted of 60% Grenache, 13% Carignane, 10% Syrah, 10% Cinsault and 7% Mourvedre.

Trackbacks: (to all listed below, I’m sorry I put these up late, I forgot about the trackbacks, please forgive me. )
First time WBW participant Bron Marshall got his hands on a bottle of 2004 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump blend, paired it with a Bar-b-que sauce laden pepperoni pizza, and enjoyed it.

Sound and Fury popped a 2003 Domain du Cayron, Gigondas ($27), a Grenache blend that needs to spend a little more time in bottle.

Over at Winefoolery, 3 bottles were tasted by Eric and his 3 friends. The 2004 Domaine de Fondrèche O’sud Côtes-du-Ventoux wasn’t that great, the 2003 Jaboulet Parallel 45 Cotes du Rhone which was a little better than the O’sud, and better still with food, and finally the 2003 Domaine Du Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf du-Pape exuded “the Pope’s nose.” Check out the site to find out what that means.

At the German Winemakers blog, or Winzerblog, the 2004 Cuvée Prestige Rasteau, Côtes du Rhône Villages was opened and determined the color was great, but that it would need some food for any real enjoyment.

Last but not least was my own tasting note on the 2003 Linne Calodo Sticks and Stones, a fantastic blend of Grenache (60%), Syrah (25%), and Mourvedre (15%). It can be said that this winery was responsible for this edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, as tasting Matt Trevisan’s blends sparked my interest in Rhone varietals, so thanks Matt!

Now what did we learn from this edition of WBW class? I’m a little flustered right now after the roundup of these 38 43 entries (which I thought I’d have done on Wednesday!), so I’ll leave some analyzing up to you. A big thanks to everyone that participated (hopefully I didn’t miss anyone), I’d say this months theme was a success!

Cheers!