Vignobles Yves Cheron Cotes du Rhone Les Dentelles 2014
Burgundian Yves Cheron graduated from the Lycée Viticole in Beaune in 1983 and headed south the following year to assume control of the family’s new domaine in the Southern Rhône. His father, Denis Cheron, saw the untapped potential in some of the region’s lesser-known appellations back in the early 1960s and left Burgundy to set up shop in this sun-baked sub-region of Provence. Denis purchased a production facility in Vacqueyras and began vinifying wines for several area growers. It wasn’t long before he had earned the trust and friendship of his client-vignerons. In 1982, one of them, the heirless owner of Grand Montmirail in Gigondas, decided to retire and gave Denis right of first refusal to buy his domaine in the appellation’s southeast sector.
Since taking over for his father, Yves has expanded the family’s vineyard holdings into neighboring Beaumes de Venise and Vacqueyras and now produces an impressive line of pure, elegantly-structured, Grenache-based reds without the rustic characteristics so common in wines from this region. All of the domaine’s vines are on gently-sloping hillsides at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range. Yves has also established long-term grape contracts with like-minded growers in Sarrians, Seguret and Violes for another 60 acres, which he uses for his Côtes du Rhône. Yves monitors each parcel and decides when to harvest. He then vinifies this excellent value red in the same manner as his Gigondas and Vacqueyras.
Typically thought of as a baby Chateâuneuf-du-Pape, the term Côtes du Rhône 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 wines 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 wine varieties include most of the Chateâuneuf-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.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.