Red, White and Brew: Rich Rhone wines and a bold winter brew
Editor’s note: The Red, White and Brew weekly feature will highlight red wines, white wines and craft beers from local stores.
Avon Liquor would like to welcome you into the world of Rhone Valley wines from France. We offer an extensive selection from this famous region.
A Rhone wine is typically a bigger, fuller wine due to a climate that is sunny and hot. The Rhone Valley in France contains the best of southern French viticulture. It is a sun-drenched region that lies along either side of the banks of the Rhone River and is split into the Northern and Southern regions. The Rhone has enjoyed terrific vintages for about a decade now, which is great news for the consumer.
The red and the white
The Rhone red wines at their best, offer depth, length, lingering harmony and can compete with the best wines in the world. The classic wines from the northern Rhone include Cote Rotie, Hermitage, St. Joseph, Cornas, Croze Hermitage and Condrieu. The southern Rhone wines include Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Cotes du Rhone Villages and offer a veritable treasure trove of great wine values.
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Rhone wines are not typically made from one grape variety, as Burgundy is, but from a blend of two to 13 different grape varietals. The most well known red grapes are grenache, syrah, mourvedre, cinsault and carignan. The main white Rhone grape varietals are grenache blanc, roussanne, marsanne, viognier and Clairette.
The northern Rhone is home to the rich red wines of the Cote Rotie. Cote Rotie literally means “roasted hill” for the very steep hill, which is perfectly aligned to soak up the sun’s rays. There is no doubt that Cote Rotie is one of the best from northern Rhone.
Traveling a bit farther south down the Rhone River, are the terraced hillsides of Hermitage, another excellent northern Rhone wine. The Romans grew grapes here. Hermitage wines are rich, heavy, tannic wines with overwhelming scents and flavors, which as it matures, opens to a splendor that cannot fail to impress. These wines are good candidates for the cellar.
Cornas and St. Joseph are also notable vineyards across the river from Hermitage. All of these northern Rhone wines are higher priced due to the small quantities produced.
The southern Rhone vineyards boast the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape. These deep, red wines come from low, bushy vines that are baked by the sun and planted on a sea of smooth stones, with no soil in sight. These stones soak up the sun during the day and radiate back the retained heat during the night. It is not unusual for vine age to be 50 to 100 years old in this area. Chateauneuf-du-Pape reds are deep, ruby-black-purple in color, with mouth filling flavors long in tannin. These wines can age for years. Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blancs are rich and interesting and reminiscent of a great white Burgundy.
Also from the southern Rhone Valley are the wines from Gigondas, which offer lavish, gusty wines with rich fruit and full body. The best values lie in the Cotes du Rhone Villages and Cotes du Ventoux, which run from $12 to $25. White Rhone wines are compelling and complex with great acidity and texture.
Rhone wines are a perfect match with a wide variety of foods. Dishes that are spicy, aromatic and intensely flavored are a great companion to the rich red and white wines of this region.
So venture into Avon Liquor and look for these exciting wines.
Cuilleron Syrah Les Vignes d’a’Cote is priced at $24.99, and Chateau Montfaucon Comtesse Madeleine Blanc can be purchased for $22.99.
Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer is brewed in limited quantities every year on Feb. 24, the birthday of Charles V. It is a rich Belgian-style strong dark beer with extra fine Belgian hops. It also has a higher alcohol level that guarantees a better evolution in time. Pick up a bottle for $27.99.