Chateau Mas Neuf Rhone Paradox Costieres de Nimes Rouge 2014
At the Southern extremity of the Rhone Valley (a very warm region), this unexpected coolness is a real singularity which marks the selection of the most adapted grape varieties and on the style of wine. They call it the "Rhone paradox".
The principal vineyards grouped around the winery have the advantage of being firmly planted on well drained brown fersiallitic soils, with a good proportion of Villafranchian era pebbles from the Durance and the Rhone. This soil ensures that the vines can get regular but moderate supplies of water. The differing depths and composition create micro terroirs with different characteristics, which are enhanced by varying viticultural techniques.
Gently rolling hills covered by large, round stones on south-facing slopes, Costieres de Nimes is a substantial IGP zone that was formerly considered part of the Languedoc. Today it is included as a section of the southern Rhone; its climate, topography and wines put it more in line with that appellation. Grenache is its most important red variety, along with Mourvedre, Syrah and Carignan. Half of the production here is rosé.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
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 is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône 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 make an appearance.