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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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    Chateau de Beaucastel Hommage Jacques Perrin Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015
    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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    Ferraton Pere & Fils Samorens Rouge 2014
    Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Rhone, Rhone, France
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      Margerum M5 Red 2015
      Rhone Red Blends from Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
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        Crous St Martin Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2016
        Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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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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          Saxum Broken Stones 2009
          Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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          Ojai Syrah Grenache 2015
          Rhone Red Blends from Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
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          Booker Vineyard Oublie 2016
          Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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          Domaine de Marcoux Lirac La Lorentine 2015
          Rhone Red Blends from Lirac, Rhone, France
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            Dauvergne Ranvier Cotes du Rhone 2014
            Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Rhone, Rhone, France
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              Roger Sabon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Prestige 2015
              Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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              Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Chaupin 2013
              Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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              Domaine Bois de Boursan Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Felix 2000
              Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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              Cachette Cotes du Rhone 2015
              Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Rhone, Rhone, France
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                Domaine Giraud Chateauneuf-du-Pape Tradition (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2012
                Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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                Jean-Luc Colombo Cotes du Rhone Les Abeilles 2016
                Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Rhone, Rhone, France
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                  Domaine de Beaurenard Rasteau Cotes du Rhone Villages 2015
                  Rhone Red Blends from Rasteau, Rhone, France
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                  Saxum Rocket Block James Berry Vineyard (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2013
                  Rhone Red Blends from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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                  Gramercy Cellars The Third Man GSM 2014
                  Rhone Red Blends from Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
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                  Buil and Gine Priorat Gine Gine 2015
                  Rhone Red Blends from Priorat, Spain
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                  Tensley All Blocks Estate Blend 2015
                  Rhone Red Blends from California
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                  Dauvergne Ranvier Luberon Vin Gourmand Rouge 2015
                  Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Luberon, Rhone, France
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                    Roger Sabon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Prestige (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2015
                    Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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                    Tormentoso Syrah-Mourvedre 2013
                    Rhone Red Blends from South Africa
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                      Chene Bleu Abelard 2009
                      Rhone Red Blends from Rhone, France
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