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Domaine de la Solitude Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2016
In the 1980s, brothers Michel and Jean Lançon took the future of Domaine de la Solitude in their hands, focusing attention on the vineyards. Fertilizers have not been used at Solitude for the past ten years. Over the past several years, Michel’s son Florent Lançon has been taking over the day-to-day operations of Domaine de la Solitude, continuing to make improvements while preserving the traditions of his father and uncle. The Estate is a contiguous 100 acres, planted to 86 acres of red grapes and 14.8 acres of white grapes, with vines averaging 50 years of age.
Driven by the desire to produce the best possible wines while still respecting the traditions of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and their lineage, in 1999, Michel and Jean decided to introduce four prestige cuvées and added Cuvée Barberini Rouge, Cuvée Barberini Blanc, Réserve Secrète, and Cornelia Constanza to the winery’s production.
Typically thought of as a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the term Côtes du Rhone actually doesn’t merely apply to the flatter outskirts of the major southern Rhône appellations, it also includes the fringes of well-respected northern Rhône appellations. White can be produced under the appellation name, but very little is actually made.
The region offers some of the best values in France and even some first-rate and age-worthy reds. Red varieties include most of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape varieties like Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Counoise, as well as Carignan. White grapes grown include Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Viognier, among others.
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 varyiong 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.