Learning the Rhône

Rhone_lineupAttended an excellent wine seminar “There’s No Place like Rhône,” hosted by Vine & Co. This attractive wine store is filled with unique wines, and a knowledgeable, attentive staff, who are clearly passionate about wine!

Thoughtfully presented by Ian Scudder of Serge Doré Selections, this was a thorough introduction to the wines of the Rhône Valley in just seven wines.

SergeDore_color First a note about Serge Doré wines…

I purchase a number of wines, many are pleasant but unremarkable, and some are, well, lets just describe them as authentic. When I drink a wine that makes me think…I want to know more about it. Often turning the bottle to the back label turns up this familiar illustration. All of Serge Doré wines show a true sense of place and are definitely authentic.

I urge you to turn bottles around to the “second label” and get familiar with excellent importers who select wines that you enjoy. Smart wine consumers know that this is an alternative to wine critic selections and reviews.

On to the Wines…Many well known Rhône wines are blends like GSM (Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre), Chateaunuf du Pape (CdP), which can contain up to 18 different grape varieties.

We started the whites and reds with single varietals to help understand what each of the grapes brings to the blend.

Wine #1

Viognier “Valvignneyre,” Alain Paret 2013- 100% Viognier- $16- Viognier has very low acidity so it is difficult to produce. This wine uses no malolactic fermentation, so the natural (malic) acid is maintained and this wine has an amazing collection of tropical fruit, bananas, passion fruit, as well as some nice floral scents that made it a perfect wine to start the tasting. This would be a great wine for summer sipping on it’s own, or with appetizers.

Wine #2

Domaine du Grand Tinel 2011- $48. A White Chateaunuf Blend- this wine had floral, peach components but also a nice petrol flavor that I like. Full bodied with a long precise finish. Delicious.

Wine #3

Syrah, Louis Chéze 2012- $16. 100% Syrah. This wine certainly shows it’s roots. Textbook Rhône Syrah- black and white pepper, along with fruit and earthiness, this is a FULL glass of wine. A great value but this wine is not for everyone…the wine had a nose of bret (barnyard, horse sweat, funk) that can provide complexity on a wine but some consider it a fault. Not me!

Wine #4

Grenache “La Croix du Coq,” Domaine Fond Croze 2011. 100% Grenache- $19. Old Vines with Concrete fermentation. These are wines that I most enjoy. You have a true expression of fruit (no wood to mask), in this case there was a boquet of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Another excellent wine to recommend to people who suffer from red wine headaches.

AdissatWine #5

Adissat 2011- Lirac- $23. 80% Mouvédre, 20% Grenache.

Adissat means “hello” and the label is actually a clever map of the Rhône Valley. An interesting wine of depth with flavors of fruit, chocolate and raw meat- seriously.


RasteauDomainLa Soumade 2011 GSM- $30. This wine is absolutely stunning. 30-50 year old vines that grow in a prized oxygen rich blue clay similar to that found at Chateu Petrus. This wine is the iron fist in a velvet glove. A big full bodied wine with a long, plush rounded finish. My favorite wine!


Domaine La Grand Tinel 2010- $46. The propery that grows this wine is considered one of the finest in the region. It is a traditional classic CdP that changes and evolves the longer that you let it sit in the glass.

One of the misconceptions that I had of the Rhône was that the great wines were always expensive. Although you can certainly find expensive wines: (Reds-Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, Whites-Condrieu, Château-Grillet) this tasting was proof that you can find amazing value wines in the region as well.

GrandMontmirailBonus wine

The importer was kind enough to share a limited production (500 cases) natural dessert wine. This wine had a pure sweetness with loads of fruit flavors, but wasn’t syrupy or overly sweet. Only $30 retail but VERY difficult to find. Seek this one out!


Learn more about the grapes and wines of the Rhône Valley.

Please share some of your favorite Rhônes…

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