Tag Archives: Cotes-du-Rhone

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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All things considered (Rhone Valley, France – Day Three)

The Rhone Valley is arguably one of the most diverse regions in France, if not Europe. Covering over 200 km from north to south it is one of the longest regions, and with the difference in climate and soil conditions provides many opportunities for viticulture. The region is split from Valence, about 100km north of Avignon and 100 km south of Lyon. North of Valence has a much more continental climate, cooler and well protected from winds and rain. South of Valence is more Mediterranean in climate, warmer with more wind influence. This is probably the most important difference between the north and south. Throughout the entire region, there are a multitude of producers of different size and style. Growers who may not make or bottle their own wine may be part of a cooperative that vinifies the fruit, and either sells the wine in bulk or bottle. There are more artisan producers who only produce wine from their own estates, whether in a single appellation or several. Then there are those in between, who produce wine from their own estates, and also purchase fruit and/or wine from growers to produce/bottle under their own label. It is very common for producers in the Northern Rhone Valley to operate in this model, as in the north there are not enough vineyards and they are also very expensive to purchase and manage, and so they compensate by bottling wine from the south were fruit is less expensive and in much larger supply. In several cases a Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge wine may account for 50% of the bottles sold each year. The first appointment for my third day epitomises this model (Guigal), the second has only just started to move into this realm (Chateau Font de Michelle), and the third only produces wine from their own estates across three appelations/vineyards (Domaine de la Renjarde/Le Prieure de Montezargues).

Only days away from capfall and flowers developing

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