Tag Archives: Cornas

Sunday Tasting Group – Northern Rhone wines

The Bentleigh Tasting Group has reconvened recently, and has also relocated thus necessitating a name-change. It’s been a while since I’ve joined this group of mostly sommeliers, so I’m a bit rusty on my blind tasting. It’s also been even longer since I’ve delved into the Northern Rhone Valley, not really since I was actually there in May of 2012. I found myself thinking back to my visits and tastings, considering the specifics of each appellation. But as always, the notes are from my blind tasting finishing with my guess as to the origin and vintage, and you can see how close I was. Some pretty amazing wines and a really interesting cross-section of styles in this one.

Doing it in style at The Point Albert Park

Doing it in style at The Point Albert Park

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Neither here nor there (Rhone Valley, France – Day Seven)

After seven days in the Rhone Valley I feel much more comfortable with the wines, people and terroir. Of course there were a number of very cult producers that I would have liked to visit, but they are notoriously difficult to get appointments with. I think it is more important that I visited a number of key producers that work across many appelations, so that I can see how interpretations may differ or be similar. I’ve certainly had my fill of syrah and grenache based wines, but would like to get more experience with the white, rose and sweet wines of the region. It is so interesting to see how different philosophies and approaches can both produce outstanding but different wine. Take the last two appointments I had in the region; the first was with a producer that not only has vineyards in both the Northern and Southern Rhone Valley (quite rare), they also have vineyards in other regions in France, Portugal and even Australia, producing millions of bottles each year; the second producer is a much smaller cult producer only working with fruit from three appelations in the Northern Rhone Valley.

Hermitage vineyards above Tain l’Hermitage

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Only a Northern Song (Rhone Valley, France – Day Five)

You can’t imagine how good it felt to return to Lyon, which is still by far my favourite city in France, having made it part of my trip in 2010. I actually spent July 14th (Bastille Day outside of France) in Lyon with a friend, and had enjoyed the fireworks display that launches from the Basilique on top of the hill above old town. Lyon is the third most populated city in France, but has the second largest metropolis. It has a long history dating back to the Roman era, and since this time has always been an important point between different parts of Europe. This made it a very strong trading point, which in my opinion is the reason that arguably the best food can be found in Lyon, ask any French person. You can also find the best and most diverse French wine here, partly because of the vibrant cuisine and bar scene, but also because Lyon is located right in the middle of four of the best regions in France; Rhone Valley to the south, Loire Valley to the north-west, Burgundy to the north, and Jura to the east. Lyon has been growing a lot recently, due to increase in business activity and also many students coming to the universities, many of them international. I’m not sure why it isn’t on more tourists route in France, but I highly recommend it for history, culture and cuisine. It was here that I spend five nights in, and took day trips down into the Northern Rhone Valley, the first day of which I visited Jean-Luc Colombo in Cornas.

Syrah has such a beautiful leaf

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