While Bordeaux may be a prolific and perhaps most famous wine region of France, the Rhône offers the edgy and raw side of French wine with overt expressions of terroir. Whether it's a cool weather northern rhone Crozes-Hermitage grown in granitic soils mixed with clay and sand, or a warmer weather Châteauneuf-du-Pape grown in galet (pebble) laden vineyards that often hide any hint of underlying soil. These pebbles, mostly quartzite, absorb heat during the day and emanate it at night, creating a warm microclimate around the vines, and allowing the grapes to fully ripen. Incidentally, quartzite is the same material often used in road construction! And then there is juicy and refreshing wine from the Luberon, a warm and very sunny region that allows white grapes to fully ripen and regain composure at night when temperatures drop significantly.
Maison Chapoutier, one of the Rhône's oldest wine producers and the first to print their labels in Braille as a matter of course. In fact, the Braille print is the very first thing I noticed on the labels when I received sample wines for the #winophiles March wine event. Why Braille? Why not Braille, because wine is one of life's sensory pleasures that can be enjoyed sign unseen!
On to the wine... thanks to Liz Barrett, I received a Luberon Ciboise (white), a Ch.-du-Pape (red), and a Crozes-Hermitage (red) to try. And...
The 2016 Luberon La Ciboise is a blend of grenache blanc, vermentino, roussanne and clairette, and is unoaked. With notes of citrus blossoms, herbs and light flowers, this youthful wine is balanced, fresh, clean, and juicy. We had it on its own before dinner (no food pairing) because it's delightful and we did not want to burden it with any competing flavours since it's almost delicate in aromas and flavours. And then...
We enjoyed the reds with a terrific cheese and charcuterie board with garlic sausage, a dry cured sausage, Pont-l'eveque, Epoisses, and tomette vendeenne cheeses, olives, and mustard amongst other things. The 2015 La Bernardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a young, delicious wine with a beautiful clear ruby colour and notes of freshly turned earth, white pepper, dried roses, fresh ripe red fruit. A medium bodied wine, soft tannins, generally straightforward and not too complex, with a medium finish. We had the 2015 vintage in 2018, but this wine is still developing and would do well with a few years in the bottle.
The 2015 Les Meysonniers Crozes Hermitage is 100% syrah and it's a bold, forthcoming wine with a gorgeous purple-ruby-violet colour. The nose shows earth, mushroom, black fruit, dried flowers, and undeniable spice. On the palate: earth, black fruit, leather, black pepper, and slight herbal notes. This full-bodied wine is a cool climate wine and doesn't have the juiciness of warm weather wines. But it's delicious after an hour or so of decanter time, and will do very well with at least another 4-5 years in the bottle.
Also see the food pairings and Rhône wine reviews by my fellow French #Winophiles:
- Gwendolyn Alley at Wine Predator tells us about “Duck à l’Orange with M. Chapoutier’s Biodynamic, Organic Rhone Wines”
- Jill Barth from L’Occasion writes about “Braille on the Label and Other Pioneering Moments of Chapoutier”
- J.R. Boynton from Great Big Reds writes about “The Dark Side of Syrah, with Domaine Fondreche Persia 2012 (Ventoux)”
- Jeff Burrows from Food Wine Click shares “Northern Rhone Wines and My Steak Tartare Disaster”
- David Crowley at Cooking Chat at tells us about “London Broil Steak with Châteauneuf-du-Pape”
- Rob Frisch at Odd Bacchus writes about “Return to the Rhône”
- Susannah Gold at Avvinare writes about “Rhône Gems from Chapoutier in Chateauneuf, du Pape, Crozes-Hermitage, and Luberon”
- Nicole Ruiz Hudson at Somm’s Table tells her story of “Cooking to the Wine: Les Vins de Vienne Gigondas with Gratinéed Shepherd’s Pie”
- Camilla Mann from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares a post on “Sober Clams + a French Syrah”
- Jane Niemeyer at Always Ravenous shares “Bison Burger Paired with Northern Rhône Syrah”
- Martin Redmond Enofylz at shares “A Taste of The House of Chapoutier”
- Rupal Desai Shankar at Syrah Queen writes about “Chapoutier: King of the Rhône”
- Lauren Walsh at The Swirling Dervish writes about “France’s Rhône Valley: Mountains, Sea, Wind, and Wine”
- Michelle Williams at Rockin Red Blog writes about “Maison M. Chapoutier: Expressing Terroir Through Biodynamics”