June’s mixed dozen selection takes stock of Rhone wines and Rhone-inspired wines. Containing mostly reds with a few winter whites, the selection also doubles as a winter warming survival kit for those cold winter nights. Now in its fifth year, our Game of Rhones mixed dozen has inspired a national roadshow dedicated to Rhone-inspired wines in deference to phenomenon that is the hit TV show of a similar name. We will reference said show only to say that we have stacked our dozen only with big name producers that are up to the challenge!
The Rhone is the spiritual home of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, the major ingredients of the traditional GSM blend as we know it in Australia. The Northern and Southern Rhône are unique, each with vastly different geography, climate, soils and grape varieties, but share one thing in common - the Rhône River. On the Northern Side, steep and terraced hillsides produce long-lasting, full-bodied and powerful wines that are also elegant in equal measure. Showcasing the North here is Yann Crozes Hermitage 2015 – a GREAT vintage in the Rhone. As the Rhone River stretches out and moves to the South, Grenache becomes king, and other varieties also come to the fore. Chateauneuf du Pape is the most famous region in the South and, led by Grenache, one may find up to 21 different varieties in the wine! Domaine Font du Michele 2013 is classic Chateauneuf du Pape. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2014 is a perfect winter white and Rive Driote Cotes du Rhone shows the Southern Rhone still can’t be beaten for value in France. Finally, just south of Avignon we’ve Le Clarion de Anges Costieres de Nimes 2014 a delicious little warmer made from Grenache and Syrah!
Moving along to the new world and stopping in Victoria, Bests Bin 1 Shiraz 2015 of Great Western, possibly one the best Australian shirazes we’ve tasted this year! From the Yarra Valley, Toolangi Estate Shiraz 2015 is a stunning cool climate example, made by Ben Portet for the Hounsells and from the brilliant 2015 red vintage in the Yarra. From Canberra, Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz from the master of the Northern Rhone-inspired wines in our land, Tim Kirk. Moving to South Australia, firstly is Cirillo Vincent Grenache 2016 – made from 80 year-old vines this is one of the great heritage wines on the Barossa! Managing the ferocity of its fruit, this is modern winemaking at its best. From McLaren Vale Inkwell Blonde on Blonde Viognier is one of the best expressions of Viognier. Period. And to round out this magnificent dozen a stalwart of Australia and the perfect winter white – Tahbilk Marsanne.