The Raise a Glass feature is published every week … here’s when I enjoyed a Côtes du Rhône at Home experience. I listened as experts Joe Wadsack and Matt Walls shared their knowledge.
I love taking a deep-dive into a wine region I’ve almost taken for granted.
This happened with wines from the southern Rhône – or more specifically Côtes du Rhône Villages.
When I set off on my refreshing refresher, I didn’t expect the likes of the Flintstones or Elton John to be included in my learning curve.
But thanks to TV’s wine expert Joe Wadsack, along with Côtes du Rhône wine specialist and writer Matt Walls, that’s exactly what happened.
My Côtes du Rhône at Home experience
I enjoyed a picnic of gorgeous French produce with friends. It had been sent over by the team encouraging people to enjoy “Côtes du Rhône at Home”.
Our nibbling delights included St Felicien and aged Comté cheeses; a fall-apart jambon persillé and a tug of saucisson aux noisettes plus pickles, mustard and chutney.
It was amazing. But just as amazing were Côtes du Rhône Villages wines to pour alongside.
The key words on my wine labels were Laudun, Suze La Rousse and Valreas.
They are three of 21 villages in the southern Rhône allowed to put their names on wine labels. Together, they comprise the appellation Côtes du Rhône Villages.
I later listened to Joe and Matt sharing thoughts on the wines from Côtes du Rhône Villages in a special podcast.
Let me recap about the Rhône
In the Northern Rhône, the syrah grape is king. Vines cling to the sides of steep, river-hewn slopes. They create full-bodied reds from places such as Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
The vineyards are ruled by the grenache grape when the river emerges into the southern Rhône region.
Grenache is often blended with other varieties, including mourvedre and cinsault. Here there are famous “cru” such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas.
Who says learning about wine has to be stuffy!
Large round stones known as galets cover much of the vineyards. Imagine a cartoon stone, says Joe and there you have it, just like in the Flintstones.
The mud too, Joe says, can cause you to clod-hop around like Elton John in Pinball Wizard!
These Rhône wines offer a unique character
Côtes du Rhône Villages wines are a step above in quality from generic Côtes du Rhône wines and are below the famous cru. The reds are often lush and brambly.
Says Matt: “They’re little corners of the Rhône that have a little bit different to say. There’s something unique about the style of wine they make.
“They’re a step up in quality.
“They offer a little bit of extra interest. A unique character; but often only a couple of quid more than the generic Côtes du Rhône wines.”
I suggest you seek some out to enjoy your own “at home” experience
Here’s a handful of thoughts: Domaine de Mourchon Grande Réserve (£19.75, mrwheelerwine.com). Séguret is the name of a hillside village.
Or how about a white, also from Séguret – Domaine Malmont Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret Blanc (£21.10, stannarywine.com).
A red wine with a fascinating backstory is RS Suze La Rousse 2018 (£14.50, contact carringtonswines.co.uk) from the LePlan-Vermeersch Winery. One of its founders is former racing car driver, Dirk Vermeersch.
First published in UK regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo –South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Gazette – Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express