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Bordeaux, Rhone Valley

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Bordeaux



Maritime Bordeaux in the west of France is a large producer of quality wines. Although saying that there's a large gap between the top few who produce ultra-premium wines with hefty price tags (Lafite, Margaux, Y'Quem, Petrus….) and the rest of the field.

The Left Bank with its gravelly composition of soils is more suited to Cabernet Sauvignon while the Right Bank is made up more of clay and this is where Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominate (as they are earlier ripens and don't mind getting their feet wet). In the middle, the Entre Du Meurs provides a slew of whites and reds made for early drinking.

On the right bank outside of St Emilion and Pomerol, there are a lot of well-priced merlots made that are more for early consumption. These come from the satellite Bordeaux regions.
The English built up a thirst for the better Bordeaux reds which they have coined 'clarets'. These are often tucked away for a while in their cellars to age and drunk with a few years under their belts. But not all Bordeaux is built for aging, so choose wisely.

Styles
For whites, there are the crisp and easily quaffed whites from Entre De Meurs, or the more ambitious oak-aged Semillion Sauvignon blends from Pessac Legonan. The queen of dessert wines, Sauternes can also call Bordeaux home. French oak maturation is a common thread amongst the elite reds, whites and sweet wines.

Grapes

White:Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot

Some of the most highly rated recent vintages are 2005, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2018.

Favourite Producers
Montrose, Pichon Lalande, Poitevin, D'Yquem, Coutet,
 



Rhone valley



Northern Rhone
The Rhone Valley is kept in check by a sweeping Mistral wind that is tunnelled from the north of Rhone to the open and flatter southern Rhone. The Rhone river runs through the valley dividing the schist and granite soils.

The Northern Rhone is a difficult place to grow grapes, the slopes are steep to work and costly. Most of the wines grown are premium styles and its production is tiny when compared to Southern Rhone. Syrah hits new heights here in the form of spicy delights.

Red or White? Mainly red with a small amount of white made. And there is a blend where red and white is co-fermented together in Cote Rotie. Syrah with a splash of viognier - a rarity!
 
Grapes
White: Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne
Red: Syrah

Styles
This is spicy syrah land - black olives, smoked meats, cooking spices and heady florals are common tasting descriptors. And the tannins can be firm and fine in youth, becoming slender with age. The whites are richer and fleshy, viognier is the queen of hedonism.

Favourite Producers
Guigal, Coursodon, Pierre Gonon, JL Chave, Bernard Faurie, Balthazar, Stephane Ogier

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Southern Rhone
Grenache reigns supreme in the south, although it is commonly blended with Mourvedre and syrah.   Planted throughout the region, Grenache loves the warmth and sunny exposition made available to it in southern Rhone. Look out for the galette pebbles found in Chateauneuf du Pape - these heat up during the day and the extra warmth overnight continues to ripen the grapes on the old bush vines.

From rosé to affordable weekday pizza wines (Cotes du Rhone blends) through to ageable beauties like Chateauneuf du Pape, Grenache is a chameleon of grapes centred around vibrant red fruits and slippery tannins.

Red or white? Red and a little rose. There's also a small amount of a fortified white called Muscat de Beaume de Venise

Grapes
White: Muscat a Petits Grains
Red: Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah

Styles
Cotes du Rhone are the cheerful wines you want to reach for mid-week. Their fleshy and fruit nature make them deliciously enjoyable and they won't burn a hole in your pocket. The pinnacle of Grenache is reached in Chateauneuf du Pape wines. These have built-in structure and can age gracefully for many years. Look out for Village or Cru wines such as  Vinsobres, Vaquerays, Gigondas as these are a happy medium between the bookend styles.

Favourite Producers
Font du Courtedune, Rayas, Beaucastel, Chateau de Fonsalette, Marcoux, Mont Redon

 


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  1. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2017 375ml
    Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2017 375ml
    Saturated ruby. Ripe black raspberry and cherry aromas are complicated by suggestions of cracked pepper, allspice and pungent flowers. Supple, appealingly sweet red and blue fruit preserve flavors gain energy with air, and a bright mineral element adds back-end lift. Supple tannins add shape to a persistent, floral-accented finish, which leaves cherry and spice notes behind. JOSH RAYNOLDS

    How Guigal year after year extracts such quality from such volume is astonishing. Famous for paying his growers well above market value for their grapes is probably the key. The fact that he treats this wine with every care and respect that her treats his upper eschelon wines is probably the other. Either way this is one of the most consistent wines to come out of France. PWS
    2017
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
  2. Chapoutier Costiere de Nimes 2017
    Chapoutier Costiere de Nimes 2017
    Opens with crème de mure, wild forest fruits and summer raspberries. Plenty of mulled spices and wild herbs. The palate is full and ripe with a tangy hit of salty liquorice on the close. The tannins are soft and plush and provide a nice frame for the fruit to hang off. PWS

    A bold, rich and round expression of mixed berries with some wild herbs. Rich, fluid tannins. Smooth and approachable. JamesSuckling.com
    2017
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
    $18.00
  3. Rive Droite Rive Gauche Cotes du Rhone 2020
    Rive Droite Rive Gauche Cotes du Rhone 2020
    Rive Droite Rive Gauche simply means right bank, left bank and the name derives from fruit for the wine being sourced from both sides of the river - the grenache coming mainly from the left (gauche) and the Syrah from the village of Daumazan (on the rive droite), near Tavel. It is also a French film starring the rotund wine-nut actor Gerard Depardieu - fun fact!

    This is a lovely fresh and crunchy styled Rhone from our friends at Rive Droite. There is touch of thyme and bay over red spiced fruits, layered with a little bit of red liquorice. This is a medium bodied rendition with a pure core of raspberry, wild strawberry and splash of black berry fruit in the mix. Its lithe with a lovely fresh cut to the sweet fruits that makes this look wonderfully elegant and damn easy to like.

    2020
    Grenache, shiraz
    France
    467
    Special Price $19.00 Regular Price $22.00 As low as $18.00
  4. Chapoutier La Combe Pilate Viognier 2017
    Chapoutier La Combe Pilate Viognier 2017

    The Chapoutiere range is huge and it is incredible to behold the quality across the board from this famous producer given the sheer amount of wine they make.

    This is off his families, mixed-use farm and sits outside the typical Condrieu framework both in style and place.

    There is an intriguing struck-flint, mineral note mixed with floral edges and fresh apricot. It's zippy an fresh with vibrant peach and apricot fruit to the fore. It lively and full of energy and raring to go. PWS

    2017
    Viognier
    France
    467
  5. Pierre Amadieu Cotes du Rhone Roulepierre 2019
    Pierre Amadieu Cotes du Rhone Roulepierre 2019
    It's been a while since we have tried the Pierre Amadieu wines and recent tasting made us question why we had for so long. A quality producer that makes a range of great northern and southern Rhone wines. There entry level CDR is a bit of a flagship and is such a joy to drink. PWS

    A 75-25 blend of Grenache and Syrah, the 2018 Cotes du Rhone Roulepierre is a fruit-forward offering with substantial weight for a "simple" Côtes du Rhône. Raspberries, cherries and garrigue come together on the charming nose, while silky tannins frame the palate and linger easily on the finish. ...It's a solid value. JOE CZWERWINSKI, eRobertParker.com
    2018
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
  6. Jaboulet Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2019
    Jaboulet Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2019

    Since taking over Jaboulet in 2003 the Frey family have been moving towards organics and biodynamic viticulture - not always that easy in the temperate climes of the Northern Rhone, especially at volume - yet in 2017 they achieved their goal.

    To get there they have dramatically reduced yields - up to 60% less fruit per hectare now than when they took over.

    The wines across the board have improved dramatically in quality and their entry level Cotes du Rhone both red and white are no exception. These are amazing quality for the amount of wine made and the price. For $20 a bottle (in dozen) you will struggle to find wines as well put together and expressive of the Rhone.

    2019
    France
    467
  7. Selon Letang Cinsault 2019
    Selon Letang Cinsault 2019
    A range of wines that express the character of their grape varieties in Guillaume's preferred style, hence 'Selon Létang' (according to the winemaker Guillaume Létang). The style? Sleekly built but with plenty of flavour - nailed it!

    This 'croquant' Cinsault is bright and deliciously enjoyable. Unoaked, vibrant redcurrant and raspberry fruit with a wild, delicately tannic herbaceous edge. There is an almost Pinot Noir like edge to these wines or a north-west Spanish feel with its minerally flecked fruit. Either way it's a lovely Cinsault and makes us wonder why we don't see more. PWS
    2019
    Cinsault
    France
    467
  8. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2017
    Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2017
    Saturated ruby. Ripe black raspberry and cherry aromas are complicated by suggestions of cracked pepper, allspice and pungent flowers. Supple, appealingly sweet red and blue fruit preserve flavors gain energy with air, and a bright mineral element adds back-end lift. Supple tannins add shape to a persistent, floral-accented finish, which leaves cherry and spice notes behind. JOSH RAYNOLDS
    2017
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
  9. Ogier Le Temps Est Venu Cotes du Rhone 2019
    Ogier Le Temps Est Venu Cotes du Rhone 2019
    A blend of 60% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre, the 2019 Cotes du Rhone le Temps Est Venu is spruced from Plan de Dieu and Visan, both in the Southern Rhône. Aged in concrete, it offers attractive scents of garrigue, black cherries and dried spices on the nose, while in the mouth, it's full-bodied, round and generous. Gently framed by supple tannins and a touch of alcoholic warmth, it hints at cherries jubilee on the finish. JOE CZWERSKI, Robert Parker
    2019
    GSM
    France
    467
  10. Ogier Le Temps Est Venu Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2019
    Ogier Le Temps Est Venu Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2019
    There is a touch of exoticism to the aromatics that otherwise run towards orchard fruits, nectarine and peach, but it's that note of ginger flower and the little hint smoky minerality that keeps me coming back for another look. Ample weight and texture, not in any way overtly rich but there is the punch and depth you would expect from Rhone varieties. There is a crisp, green apple cut to the fruit which keeps its super fresh and bright. It's just so much fun to drink. I mean, you get all this upfront pleasure with the bold fruit but it shows remarkable clarity and energy for a wine at this level. I love it. I drank one to make sure but I was prepared this time and had a backup bottle which I drank the next night. *It's a money back guarantee here, if you like white wine and this doesn't work for you then we will refund you for the bottle. ROSCOE
    2019
    Marsanne, Roussane
    France
    467
  11. Chai Saint Etienne Tradition Rouge 2016
    Chai Saint Etienne Tradition Rouge 2016
    60% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 20% Côt
    The Coteaux du Quercy AOC is one of France smallest wine region with only 400 hectares and less than 20 growers. It lies between Cahors & Gaillac. After the Phylloxera, the Quercy, once 50 000 hectares was almost destroyed. Roger Gisbert and his brave mates started their appellation from scratch. With high draining slopes of white clay and limestone soils, Cabernet Franc was chosen to blend with the Merlot, and off course the Cot (aka. Malbec) replanted on the rocky soils. The grapes are harvested and sorted, then fallow slow and gentle traditional fermentation.
    2016
    Cabernet Franc, Merlot
    France
    356
  12. Domaine Font de Courtedune Cotes du Rhone Village 2019
    Domaine Font de Courtedune Cotes du Rhone Village 2019

    Domaine Font de Courtedune – for now, at least – is something of an insider’s secret. With vineyards right next door to Château Rayas, and sharing the same sandy soils, this tiny Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate produces outstanding wines that are a fraction of the price of those of its famous neighbour.

    The vineyards have long been owned by the Charrier family, but the fruit was sold to the local co-operative until 1997, when René Charrier established the domaine. Today his children Caroline and Frédéric are in charge.

    Everything here is joyously traditional. The old vines (some of which are over 100 years old) are all farmed sustainably, with as little intervention as possible; a philosophy that follows through into the winery. Everything is whole-bunch, fermented and aged in concrete vats, with no oak to be found in the winery at all. They work almost exclusively with Grenache, with just a splash of Mourvèdre, Counoise, Cinsault and Terret Noir to add extra spice and body to the wines.

    This is heady and lifted with briary fruits that leap out of the glass followed by fresh cracked pepper corn, amaro spice and fresh orange peel. It's so enticing on the nose and a little air brings out a touch of wild herbs and soft vanilla. The fruits is sweet and with cool black and red fruits hemmed in nicely but fine powdery tannins. There is a touch of oppulence all round but it sits tightly in a neat and focused package.

    2016
    Grenache
    France
    467
  13. Charvin Cotes du Rhone Le Poutet 2019
    Charvin Cotes du Rhone Le Poutet 2019

    ‘(vat) steady, quite full red robe; the bouquet appeals, gives a soft red berry aroma, resembles strawberry jam with floral instincts. It’s stylish, especially given the context of the hot summer. The palate has an easy, supple tone, is lined with well-defined berry fruits, the tannins adding a little darkness and tang towards the finish. This has been very well made to achieve elegance, holds charming fruit, and has the structure to evolve kindly, aided by its clear, trim structure. JOHN LIVINGSTONE-LEARMONTH, The Cradle Of The Rhône

    Aromatically it’s pretty classic stuff here. Garrigue, super ripe berry notes and some heady perfume mixed in with some spice. Where it really ramps up a gear is the delivery of the suave, ripe, plush swirls of fruit that sit in the upper register of middle weight, teetering on the edge of rich, but pushes through to a clean and brighter than expected finish due to the fresh acidity and subtly grippy tannins. Lovely. No surprise there. ROSCOE

    2019
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
    Special Price $38.00 Regular Price $45.00
  14. Mazeris Canon-Fronsac 2016
    Mazeris Canon-Fronsac 2016
    Shows ripeness and power on the nose with ripe dark berries and volcanic salt. Full body, soft and rich tannins and a long, flavorful finish. Drink in 2022. (91) JAMES SUCKLING

    One of the best things agbout the Bordeaux 2016 vintage was the stregth of the satellite appelations - this Canon Fronsac is a freat example - situated on the right bank but with a lot of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon you could easly see this as more left bak in style - it is everything a good claret should be dense dark with chewy tannis and cool clean fruit - absoultly delicous and a great price. ALEX WILCOX


    2016
    Cabernet Blends
    France
    356
  15. Chateau La Vieille Cure 2017- 375ml
    Chateau La Vieille Cure 2017- 375ml

    Fronsac

     74% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon.

    An utterly delicious red with crushed berries, cappuccino and hints of black olives. Medium-bodied, compact and very soft. Really creamy texture. A blend of 75% merlot, 22% cabernet franc and 3% cabernet sauvignon. Hard not to drink now. So do it! JAMES SUCKLING

    The 2017 La Vieille Cure is deep, fleshy and delicious. In 2017, La Vieille Cure is a bit less dense than it often is, but it still packs a pretty serious punch. Dark red cherry, plum, cinnamon, chocolate and floral notes shape this racy, inviting Fronsac. ANTONIO GALLONI

    The 2017 Vieille Cure has a tightly-packed black cherry and cassis scented bouquet that feels as if it could be more intense once in bottle. The palate is medium-bodied with a candied, pastille-like opening: blackcurrant, crème de cassis and vanilla, lower in acidity than its Fronsac peers but smooth as silk towards the finish. NEAL MARTIN

     

    2017
    Cabernet Blends
    France
    356
  16. Senejac 2018
    Senejac 2018
    36 Bottles available at time of offer

    The 2018 Sénéjac has an attractive bouquet of blackberry and raspberry fruits, touches of graphite and pressed flowers. I admire the precision of this Haut-Médoc. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins, well-judged new oak (25%) and a touch of dark chocolate toward the finish. This has real panache and class and comes highly recommended. NEAL MARTIN
    2018
    Cabernet Blends
    France
    356
  17. Ogier La Rosine Syrah 2018
    Ogier La Rosine Syrah 2018
    Pungent blueberry, cherry, incense and a hint of cracked pepper on the fragrant nose. Appealingly sweet and broad in the mouth, showing good depth and clarity to the juicy, smoke-tinged black and blue fruit flavors. Reveals a building floral quality and lively, spicy lift on the long, subtly tannic finish, which leaves a hint of violet behind. JOSH RAYNOLDS, Vinous Media

    The 2018 La Rosine Syrah blends scents of licorice, tapenade, cola and plums on the nose, revealing substantial complexity. Medium to full-bodied, it shows excellent ripeness on the palate, silky tannins and ample length on the mouthwatering finish. It's a terrific introduction to Stéphane Ogier's range of Syrahs from the Northern Rhône. JOE CZERWINSKI, Robert Parker
    2018
    shiraz
    France
    467
    Special Price $56.00 Regular Price $60.00 As low as $47.00
  18. Mont Redon Chateauneuf du Pape 2018 375ml
    Mont Redon Chateauneuf du Pape 2018 375ml
    Deep, shimmering ruby. Powerful red and dark berry scents are complemented by exotic spice, garrigue and floral nuances. Sappy and densely packed, offering juicy raspberry, cherry preserve, licorice and fruitcake flavors underscored by a vein of juicy acidity. Gently chewy tannins build steadily on an impressively long, penetrating finish that leaves behind lavender and juicy cherry notes. JOSH RAYNOLDS, Vinous
    2017
    Grenache
    France
    467
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