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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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  • Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone Villages 2012
    Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Rhone Villages, Rhone, France
    • W&S90
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  • Michel Gassier Costieres de Nimes Nostre Pais Red 2013
    Rhone Red Blends from Costieres de Nimes, Rhone, France
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  • Delas Ventoux 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Ventoux, Rhone, France
    • RP90
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  • Delas Ventoux 2014
    Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Ventoux, Rhone, France
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  • Cachette Cotes du Rhone 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Rhone, Rhone, France
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    • Fable Mountain Vineyards Night Sky 2013
      Rhone Red Blends from South Africa
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    • Domaine Chaume-Arnaud Cotes du Rhone Le Petit Coquet 2013
      Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Rhone, Rhone, France
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      • Syncline Subduction Red Blend 2015
        Rhone Red Blends from Columbia Valley, Washington
        • WE92
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      • Domaine Chamfort Cotes du Rhone 2014
        Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Rhone, Rhone, France
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        • Mas Amiel Vertigo 2015
          Rhone Red Blends from Languedoc-Roussillon, France
          • RP91
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        • Domaine Lombard Vin de Pays de La Drome Le Re Nommee 2014
          Rhone Red Blends from Rhone, France
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        • Vignobles Brunier Le Pigeoulet 2016
          Rhone Red Blends from Rhone, France
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          • Chateau Mas Neuf Rhone Paradox Costieres de Nimes Rouge 2014
            Rhone Red Blends from Costieres de Nimes, Rhone, France
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            • Domaine Chaume-Arnaud Cotes du Rhone Le Petit Coquet 2016
              Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Rhone, Rhone, France
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