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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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  • Bodegas Mas Alta Romani La Basseta 2011
    Rhone Red Blends from Priorat, Spain
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  • Chateau Puech-Haut Coteaux du Languedoc Prestige 2014
    Rhone Red Blends from Languedoc-Roussillon, France
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  • Bosquet des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Chante Le Merle 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Domaine Giraud Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Grenaches de Pierre 2014
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Saint Cosme Gigondas le Claux 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Gigondas, Rhone, France
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  • Saint Cosme Gigondas Valbelle 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Gigondas, Rhone, France
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  • Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Rouge (375ML half-bottle) 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Adelaida District, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
    • V94
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  • Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Rouge 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Adelaida District, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
    • V94
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  • Chateau Cabrieres Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Lettre a Louis Arnaud Les Silex 2000
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Sans Liege Transcendentalist XII/XIII/XIV
    Rhone Red Blends from Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • WW94
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  • Saxum G2 Vineyard 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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  • Saxum James Berry Vineyard 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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  • Clos du Caillou Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Quartz 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Andre Brunel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Cailloux Centenaire 2000
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Saxum Broken Stones (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2014
    Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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  • Saxum Terry Hoage Vineyard 2014
    Rhone Red Blends from Willow Creek District, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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  • Domaine du Grand Montmirail Les Deux Juliette Vieilles Vignes 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Gigondas, Rhone, France
    • RP91
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  • Bosquet des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape Gloire de Mon Grand-Pere 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Vidal-Fleury Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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  • Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
    • WS95
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  • Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2005
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
    • WS95
    • RP93
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  • Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reservee 2003
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
    • RP98
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  • Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2006
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
    • RP96
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  • Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2004
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
    • WS96
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  • Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2003
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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