"Perhaps his best achievement among the inexpensive wines is his 2006 Cotes du Rhone Les Deux Albions. This is a blend of 50% Syrah, 20% Grenache, and the rest Mourvedre and Carignan. Already in bottle, the wine exhibits a deep ruby/purple color and a sweet nose of peppery blackberry and cassis, with a hint of exotic flowers and tropical fruits.
Remarkably, he blends in 10% of the white grape Clairette to give an almost Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline-like floral complexity to the black fruit character. This is a fat, fleshy, delicious wine meant for drinking in its first 3-4 years of life."
Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
Domaine de Saint Cosme Winery
Louis Barruol is the 14th generation Barruol to make wine at Saint Cosme. The Chateau was built in the late 16th Century on the site of a former Roman villa, and the remains of a Roman wine cellar, carved into the stone of the hillside, still exist in the chateau's caves. There are 37 acres of vineyards and the vines average 60 years of age. The old plots (pictured on the Gigondas label) and stitch across the escarpment of the ragged Dentelles de Montmirail, an oft-painted mountain range.
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The appellation of Côtes du Rhône encompasses much of the land of the area, not to mention much of the wine – over two-thirds of the wine produced here is of the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation. Wines here need only be from the Côtes de Rhône geographic area (which is fairly large) and consist of one or more of the 22 varieties permitted. Being such a wide classification, it's a surprise and joy that so many of these wines reach such a high quality. While there are areas in the Northern Rhône that meet the classification of Côtes du Rhône, most all of this appellation is in the Southern Rhône. Wines here are based mostly on Grenache, like other Rhône reds, while the whites focus on Marsanne and Roussanne. Viognier is also allowed although typically used in smaller quantities.
There is one higher level in the Côtes du Rhône called Côtes du Rhône Villages. These wines are from specific village areas that have a few more standards the wine must reach to receive the village label. Some to take note of are Cairanne, Rasteau, Seguret and Beaumes-de-Venise. The good thing about both Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages is that big producers of the smaller appellations are taking the opportunity and freedom offered by this broad appellation and creating wines of very high quality, and lower in price.
About France - Other regions
When it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and
Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.