Not only does the Rhône Valley produce some of the most profound wines in France, it also offers delicious wines at unbeatable value. Although we normally avoid discounting, the Rhônes below were bought at the peak of the Rand’s weakness and we need to make space for new wines.
‘One of my all-time favorite producers in France… a phenomenal bargain,’ writes Robert Parker on the pair from Château Pesquié. Enough said really; the old vine Le Paradou Grenache and Syrah/Grenache Terrasses are both flat-out delicious.
The Vaucluse Rouge from Domaine des Tours is a Wine Cellar favourite and cracks 90 points on community-based Cellar Tracker. A little wine with masses of character and made by one of the finest producers in France – Château Rayas.
Chapoutier’s Cornas is a Syrah-lover’s absolute delight with its burly tannins and huge concentration. There is similar magic in the Chante-Alouette, where old vine Marsanne offers Grand Cru-like complexity.
Finally, two elegant St Josephs from the Syrah-master Yves Cuilleron. The classic 2014s will take some time to show their best. The Serines more so than the L’Amarybelle as it’s produced from a vineyard planted in 1936!
Chapoutier, Côtes-du-Rhône Belleruche Rouge 2014 – R 140
The 2014 Côtes du Rhône Belleruche has subtle cherry, garrigue and hints of pepper in a medium-bodied, lightly textured, yet balanced and well-made style. It too is a good wine geared for near term consumption. – Wine Advocate, 86/100
Chapoutier, Côtes-du-Rhône Belleruche Blanc 2015 – R140
I continue to think these value-priced wines from Chapoutier are on the upswing and the 2015 Côtes du Rhônes Belleruche Blanc is one of my favorite vintages to date. Made from a mix of Grenache Blanc Viognier, Bourboulenc and Clairette, brought up in a combination of stainless steel in demi-muids (this is the first vintage to see demi-muid), it offers beautiful tropical fruits and a touch of white peach in a richly textured, medium-bodied and straight up delicious style ideal for drinking over the coming year or two. – Wine Advocate, 88/100
Chapoutier, Cornas Les Arènes 2013 – R450
Referring to the Spanish word for very finely decomposed granite soils, almost to the point of sand, the 2013 Cornas Les Arênes is an outstanding Cornas that makes the most of the vintage. Cassis, crushed rocks, bouquet garni and plenty of rocky minerality emerge from this medium-bodied, elegant, yet nicely concentrated 2013. It has fresh acids and fine tannin, and should drink nicely through 2023. – Wine Advocate, 90/100
Chapoutier, Hermitage Chante-Alouette 2014 – R 750
A year in, year out blockbuster, the 2014 Hermitage Chante-Alouette comes from a mix of parcels on Hermitage hill and is 100% Marsanne; it spent ten months in 65% demi-muids (two- and three-year-old barrels) and 35% stainless steel tanks. Offering fabulous notes of buttered citrus, honeysuckle and a hint of pineapple, this medium to full-bodied, incredibly pure, elegant and seamless beauty opens up nicely with time in the glass, has building richness and a rock star finish. Don’t miss it. – Wine Advocate, 94/100
Chapoutier, Ermitage Le Méal Blanc 2013 – R 1,350
Easily the finest vintage of this cuvee to date, the 2013 Ermitage le Meal Blanc doesn’t give an inch to the more heralded Cuvee de L’Orée or l’Ermite. Pure perfection in a glass, with awesome caramelized citrus, pineapple, crushed rock, toasted bread and buttered peach, it’s full-bodied, massive and concentrated on the palate, with incredible purity, richness and length. As with the other top whites here, it needs a year or two in the cellar and will have 2-3 decades of longevity. – Wine Advocate, 100/100
Chapoutier, Ermitage De L’Orée Blanc 2013 – R 1,350
Leading off three single-vintage whites from Hermitage, the stunning 2013 Ermitage Cuvee de L’Orée has an off-the-hook bouquet that includes just about everything you could think of when considering Hermitage Blanc. White peach, white flowers, almond paste, quince and wet rock are just some of the nuances, and it packs a serious punch on the palate, with full-bodied richness, a flamboyant, expansive texture and riveting focus and purity. Give it a year or so and drink it over the following 2-3 decades. – Wine Advocate, 100/100
Château Pesquié, Terrasses Ventoux Rouge 2014 – R 110
Always a terrific value, the 2014 Ventoux Terrasses is no exception and offers complex, classic southern Rhone notes of dried garrigue, pepper, spice-box, licorice and sweet cherry fruit. These carry to a medium to full-bodied, elegant and balanced red that gains depth and richness with time in the glass, has loads Provencal character and a great finish. Made from a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah that was aged in tank and old barrels, it can last for 7-8 years (I know as I just finished a case of the ’05, which was still going strong at age 10.) – Wine Advocate, 91/100
Château Pesquié, Le Paradou Grenache 2014 – R 85
The 2014 Vin de France (100% Grenache) comes from rocky, clay and limestone soils and higher elevation vineyards located to the west of the city of Nimes. This bistro styled beauty has lots kirsch, roasted herb and black licorice characteristics as well as medium to full-bodied richness, plenty of texture and enough depth and substance to drink nicely for 3-4 years. – Wine Advocate, 88/100
Château des Tours, Vacqueyras 2009 – R 575
The sensational 2009 Vacqueyras should age as well as its 2004 counterpart, but it is a headier cuvee with relatively high alcohol (probably 15+%). It exhibits abundant notes of kirsch liqueur, licorice and raspberry in addition to a full-bodied style filled with fruit and character. Aged completely in tank, it comes across like a family member of the great Château Rayas. – Wine Advocate, 93+/100
Yves Cuilleron, St Joseph L’Amarybelle 2014 – R 415
Saturated ruby. Ripe cherry and blackberry on the deeply perfumed nose, complicated by notes of pipe tobacco, violet and candied licorice. Smoky and focused on the palate, offering gently sweet dark berry and floral pastille flavors sharpened by zesty acidity and a peppery nuance. Finishes sappy, gently sweet and very long, offering slow-building tannins and a late hint of cola. – Antonio Galloni 91-93/100