PREVIOUS TASTING ARCHIVE – JUNE 2022
There are a few contenders for the world’s most important wine river, but high in the list must be the Rhône. Rising in the Swiss Alps, the Rhône flows through France to empty into the Mediterranean sea, discharging twice the volume of water as France’s longest river, the Loire. It carves steep-sided valleys that bear some of wine’s most famous names, from Côte-Rôtie to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and from Condrieu to Hermitage.
Rhône Valley wines are often grouped as Northern and Southern Rhône. The cooler north is influenced by the cold winds from the Massif Central, and red wines are dominated by the Syrah grape. Famous appellations like Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage or Saint-Joseph are generally 100% Syrah. Red wines from the more Mediterranean-influenced south are mostly blends, centred around Grenache, but with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan playing important roles too.
Over 70% of Rhône wines are red, but white and rosé of very high quality should not be ignored, and nor should the famous sweet wines, like the famous Muscats of Beaumes de Venise. Again, northern white wines are dominated by a single grape variety: Viognier. Viognier may have taken off globally, but this is its home. In the south, Marsanne and Roussanne play very important white wine roles, along with a panoply of minor varieties.
Pure Syrah appears in the shape of Crozes-Hermitage, plus we have a Châteauneuf-du-Pape from a top estate and a wine from a small domaine on the slopes of Mont Ventoux to complete the red wine line-up. There’s a powerful and aromatic white blend from the Côtes du Rhône, a quite stunning Tavel Rosé from a biodynamic estate, and a fine example of classic, sweet, Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise from Domaine.
Domaine de l’Amandine, Côtes du Rhône Blanc
Domaine des Carabiniers, Tavel Rosé Moon Apogé
Famille Gonnet, Ventoux Le Vin de Léonard
Coeur de Clairmont, Crozes-Hermitage
Roger Perrin, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Galets de la Berthaude
Domaine des Bernardins, Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise