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Rhône Blends

With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice...

With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice, Rhône red blends originated in France’s Southern Rhône valley and have become popular in Priorat, Washington, South Australia, and California’s Central Coast. In the Rhône itself, 19 grape varieties are permitted for use, but many of these blends, are based on Grenache and supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre, earning the nickname “GSM blends.” Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are perhaps the best-known outposts for these wines. Other varieties that may be found in Rhône blends include Carignan, Cinsault, and Counoise.

In the Glass

The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache, which often forms the base of these blends, is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit, a plush texture, and often high levels of alcohol. Syrah supplies darker fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy, and meaty notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume as well as body, tannin, and a healthy dose of color. New World examples will lie further along the fruit-forward end of the spectrum, while those from the Old World taste and smell much earthier, often with a “barnyard” character that is attractive to many fans of these wines.

Perfect Pairings

Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. Depending on the weight and alcohol level, these can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes—they play equally well with beef, pork, duck, lamb, or game. With their high acidity, these wines are best-matched with salty or fatty foods, and can handle the acidity of tomato sauce in pizza or pasta. Braised beef cheeks, grilled lamb sausages, or roasted squab are all fine pairings.

Sommelier Secret

Some regions like to put their own local spin on the Rhône red blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin, and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or even Tempranillo make an appearance.

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  • Alban Pandora 2012
    Rhone Red Blends from Edna Valley, Central Coast, California
    • RP100
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  • Clos Saint-Jean Deus Ex Machina Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
    • RP100
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  • Saxum James Berry Vineyard (1.5 Liter Magnum - scuffed label) 2007
    Rhone Red Blends from Central Coast, California
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  • Saxum James Berry Vineyard Bone Rock 2012
    Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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  • Alban Pandora 2013
    Rhone Red Blends from Edna Valley, Central Coast, California
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  • Clos Saint-Jean Deus Ex Machina Chateauneuf-du-Pape (1.5 L Magnum) 2009
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Clos Saint-Jean Sanctus Sanctorum (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2012
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Saxum Booker Vineyard 2012
    Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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  • Domaine Pierre Usseglio et Fils Chateauneuf-du-Pape Mon Aieul 2001
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
    • RP99
    • WS98
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  • Saxum James Berry Vineyard Bone Rock (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2013
    Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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    • WS96
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  • Saxum James Berry Vineyard Bone Rock (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2007
    Rhone Red Blends from Central Coast, California
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  • Domaine de la Vieille Julienne Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reserve 2012
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
    • RP98
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  • Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Chaupin 2010
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reservee 2003
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Saxum James Berry Vineyard 2008
    Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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  • Domaine de Marcoux Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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    • RP95
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  • Saxum Booker Vineyard 2008
    Rhone Red Blends from Central Coast, California
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  • Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes (1.5L Magnum) 2000
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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    • V93
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  • Domaine de Beaurenard Cuvee Boisrenard Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2001
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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    • WS95
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  • Saxum James Berry Vineyard 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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  • Saxum Broken Stones (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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  • Domaine Saint Prefert Isabel Ferrando Chateauneuf-du-Pape Colombis 2007
    Rhone Red Blends from Rhone, France
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  • Roger Sabon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Secret des Sabon 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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    • RP96
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  • Booker Vineyard Fulldraw Twenty-Four 2014
    Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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