Looking for Rhone in all the right places, 2007
From bold Provencal roses to thrilling Chateauneuf du Pape, this vintage is a homerun from top to bottom. What may be the most intriguing buy though is the lower tier wines, as they have an opulence and generosity that is seldom found in humble appellations such as Rasteau, Cairanne, Lirac and yes, the oh so generically termed Cotes du Rhone. Regardless of vintage propaganda, exchange rates or meager economic conditions, the vagaries of the Cotes du Rhone appellation are almost always wallet friendly & just the ticket for tough times.
Broadly, ’07 Grenache from all tiers of appellations checks in w/ darker the normal color, heady profiles and vivid, richly textured fruit that seems to strike a chord between New World exuberance and Old World poise. The Grenache and Syrah based Cotes du Rhones that I’ve tasted are consistent in terms of their open-knit accessibility, plush tannins and fuller than normal palate presence. Though there’s nothing like a good, old fashioned rustic Rhone, I think the style of the ‘07s will have a broader mass appeal and can consistently knock the under 20 dollar price-point out of the park.
A textbook example of what I’m talking about comes from Saint Cosme, ’07 Cotes du Rhone. This deeply hued wine reveals terrific aromatic depth, with notes of black raspberry, cherry liqueur, hot stones, spicy cedar and sweet loam checking in on the nose. The palate has excellent, forward fruit that electrifies in terms of pleasure, pulsing along a soft textured, yet exciting beam of vivid, purple fruit flavors. In terms of heft and length, this lacks the aspiration of a Chateauneuf or top Gigondas, yet it has the purity and concentration of a wine from far better pedigree. Again, this is just only one of the many 90 point wines that can be had for a song in the ’07 vintage. In spite of all the financial trepidation, I think there are still plenty of great deals that many consumers should be excited about in ’07 from the Southern Rhone Valley. As you can tell, I’m certainly one of them.