Clos Bellane Cotes du Rhone Villages Valreas Blanc 2016
An appellation full of some of the most delightful and particularly charming reds, Côtes du Rhône Villages includes the best villages of the greater Côtes du Rhône appellation. The possibility for an appellation promotion exists for every named village but each has to achieve and prove superior quality before an upgrade will be granted. The main ones today are Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Beaumes-de-Venise, Vinsobres, Rasteau and Cairanne.
The Gigondas appellation, while sometimes producing wines with a touch of rusticity, can often rival Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Its elevations are higher and soils richer in limestone. Vacqueyras reds are more concentrated than the more general Côtes du Rhône reds and must be at least one half comprised of Grenache by law. Beaumes de Venise also includes some excellent higher elevation spots for making snappy, fruity and spicy reds but historically the appellation’s esteem came from its fragrant, sweet and golden Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise.
Full-bodied and flavorful, white Rhône blends originate from France’s Rhône Valley. Today these blends are also becoming popular in other regions, proving most successful in Spain, Australia and California. Typically some combination of Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier form the basis of a white Rhône blend with varying degrees of flexibility depending on the exact appellation.
In the Glass
Each variety contibutes something unique and different. Round, textural Grenache blanc gives green apple and white stone fruit flavors; weighty Marsanne adds structure and honeysuckle aromas; russet-colored Roussanne lends intriguing herbal, tea-like notes while Viognier provides a creamy texture and elegant aromatics. The flavor of the final wine will depend on the chosen components of the blend and their respective proportions.
White Rhône blends are quite versatile food pairing wines and can work with light to medium rich meals that might often be matched to red wines. Heavier fish dishes with bold seasoning like grilled swordfish with caper butter or baked, herb-crusted mahi mahi are natural allies for these flavorful wines. Other ideal dishes include roast pork in mustard sauce, poached lobster with beurre blanc, or a rich and savory vegetable quiche. `
In the Northern Rhône, blends of Marsanne and Roussanne are common in the appellations of St.-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage and St-Péray. Condrieu and Château-Grillet can produce single-varietal Viognier only. The Southern Rhône, on the other hand, has much more variety, with many more permitted grapes including the ones named above as well as Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picpoul and Ugni Blanc.