Friday, September 17, 2021


September is the perfect time to explore versatile wines from Côtes du Rhône (CdR) AOC. Join us #winophiles as we taste and nibble our way through the AOC. We will be talking about all things CdR on Twitter under #winophiles on Saturday, 18 September at 8 AM PDT. Check out host Wendy's post and if you have things to say, chime in on sat AM. If you just need some AM wine talk with your coffee, come and spectate. Either way, it's going to be full of interesting facts and luscious food pics so don't miss it!

Some of us got samples through our event sponsor Côtes du Rhône thanks to the coordination efforts of Jeff from Food Wine Click. As always, samples or not, our opinions remain solely ours. 

Wine has been produced in the Rhône since pre-Roman times and everything including wine at that time was politicised but no history lesson here, so let's talk about now. In the most simple terms, Rhône wines rank like this from bottom to top: CdR-CdR Villages-CdR named Villages-Cru. At the top the crus include heavy hitters like Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, Tavel, etc. and then we have the CdR AOC wines which some might say are basic. But they really aren't. The CdR is further broken into two subregions: méridional and septentrional.

50% of the wine produced in the Rhône valley is classified as CdR AOC. The CdR AOC makes red, white, and rosé wines with regulatory requirements dictating grape varietals and blends allowed. If I had to summarise CdR AOC wines I'd say: versatile, well-made, excellent QPR, and worth a visit.

I received 6 bottles of wine including wines from CdR, CdR Villages, and CdR Named Villages AOCs. Most were red, one was white, and one rosé. It was a beautiful line-up and I opened two reds. I paired one with a top sirloin steak and one with Peshawari chapli kebabs. Both were delicious with each wine.

Grenache, Mourvèdre, Counoise, Syrah, and Cinsault
ABV 14%

I am such a fan of this exquisite wine. According to the tech sheet, Inopia, which translates from Latin as "made from nothing", refers to a neglected barren plot near the village of Orange that Mounir and Rotem Saouma purchased in 2011. They planted the plot densely to Grenache, Mourvèdre, Counoise, Syrah, and Cinsault (plus seven more). All the grapes are hand-harvested at cool temperatures and undergo one week of whole-cluster maceration, followed by a fifteen-day fermentation with no punch-downs or pump-overs. The wine is then pressed and split among a combination of French oak foudres, cement eggs, and 500-liter barrels for 18 months of maturation without racking. The wines are then bottled without fining or filtration. 

Looks: ruby with flecks of pink garnet

Nose: mainly dark red fruits, dried herbs

Palate: Echos the dark red fruits from the nose, but especially ripe cherries, dried resinous herbs, and a saline mineral edge. Velvet-y tannins, full body, juicy acidity, and a long finish. This is a polished wine and one to look for.

Pairing: It's tough to to wrong with Rhône reds and steak but this wine especially really took each bite to such a satisfying level. We enjoyed this wine with a pan-seared top sirloin lightly rubbed with mustard, dried herbs, and butter with roasted potatoes, meaty shiitake mushrooms, and horseradish sauce. The mushrooms were roasted in the pan sauce while the steak was resting and the horseradish sauce was homemade with Mexican sour cream, not sharp, and matched the saline mineral edge of the wine splendidly.

70% Grenache, 30% Syrah
ABV 13.5%

Since 1976 Loius Bernard has been building partnerships throughout the Rhône valley through whom he continues to make carefully crafted wines.

This wine is Made from Grenache and Syrah, hand-harvested at optimal ripeness, destemmed then vinified separately. After a cool-temperature maceration and fermentation period of 3 weeks, the wine is aged for an additional 10 months before bottling. As in the wine, there is thought put into the design of the bottle which pays homage to the regional heritage with a crested coat of arms and distinctive label of a historic arched stained-glass window.

Looks: ruby with a faint purple edge

Nose: mainly dark black fruits, soupçon of baking spices

Palate: Dark red fruits similar to the nose, black pepper at the end. Silky tannins, juicy acidity, medium body and finish. This is a lively young wine and I would say best enjoyed young to relish the fruit and spice, but it is an elegant wine nevertheless.

Pairing: We enjoyed this with a summer lunch in the garden of Peshawari lamb and beef chapli kebabs, mint chutney, Arabic bread, and garnishes. The warmth of the lamb and the spices in the kebabs + the mint chutney were a gorgeous match with the wine. The spicy edge of the wine walked hand in hand with the complex spices in the kebabs. We would absolutely do both again!

And this is what everyone else is saying about the wines they received/selected so do read and be inspired to open a bottle!
  • Jeff from Food Wine Click! thinks we should Embrace the Base of the Côtes du Rhône Pyramid.
  • Cindy of Grape Experiences suggests we Sip Wine from the Côtes-du-Rhône... then Visit the Rhône Valley
  • Mel of Wining with Mel introduces us to The Wonderful World of Chapoutier in Côtes du Rhône.
  • Terri of Our Good Life tells you What You Need to Know about Côtes du Rhône Wines.
  • Robin of Crushed Grapes Chronicles talks about Côtes du Rhône & Côtes du Rhône Villages – a plethora of flavors to pair with!
  • David of Cooking Chat shares Grilled Sirloin Steak and Cotes du Rhone
  • Jen of Vino Travels takes us on A Journey Through the Cotes du Rhone
  • Linda of My Full Wine Glass introduces us to Red, white and pink-The colors of Cotes du Rhone wine
  • Jill of L'Occasion is Feeling Satisfied with Cotes du Rhone
  • Susannah of Avvinare shares A Fresh Look at the Cote du Rhone


  1. I so enjoyed the Inopia and can see it going wonderfully with your steak with horseradish sauce. I found I enjoyed it best with meat and spice.

  2. Beautiful pairings, Payal. Thanks for joining the fun and games this month.

  3. Both of these pairings are making my mouth water! They both sound absolutely delightful.

  4. I also loved the Inopia. So intense and brooding! Bet it was wonderful with the herb-rubbed steak.