Best of the Bunch – Top Rhône Reds for Rhône Wine Week
Rhône Wine Week will be kicking off again this November from the 2nd to 8th. It consists of a full week of wine events such as the ‘Big Rhône Wine Quiz’, which is so much fun and actually not so easy but a great night out with plenty of great wine to try. Add some Q&A’s and focused tasting going on all around Ireland, as well as discounts on Rhône wine from participating wine shops and restaurant’s and its surely is a week not to miss. However, if you are still unsure, it could be deemed an Irish week as there are articles out there saying that Saint Patrick brought Syrah to the Rhône. For those who don’t know, Syrah is one of the main grape varieties of the Rhône, therefore we should celebrate and support this great region with an Irish welcome.
To get nerdy for a moment, the Rhône is located south of Burgundy and broken into two sub regions, the Northern Rhône and the Southern Rhône. The Northern Rhône is predominantly planted with Syrah (the only red variety allowed) and Voignier, and is considered the better of the two regions for quality. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great wines from the south, but the North has more prestige with the release of Guigals Côte-Rôtie in 2007 of the 2003 vintage retailed in places for €700.
The Rhône is believed to have been first cultivated in 600BC, however it really didn’t appear on the radar until the 13th century when the Popes moved to Avignon. The Northern Rhône has a continental climate with harsh winters and warm summers, whilst the Southern Rhône has a Mediterranean climate with milder winters and hot summers. Each also has a varied amount of terroirs and micro climates.
Probably one of the most famous parts of the Rhône is Châteauneuf-du-Pape, an area known for its blend that can contain up to 19 different grape varieties (ten red and nine white) and its pudding stones, large pudding like stones that take the heat from the sun and keep the vines warm at night. Hermitage is the smallest area within the Rhône with only 130 hectares under vine.
Anyway time to taste and get your taste buds ready for Rhône Wine Week. Here a few I recommend.
This wine has a slightly seductive nose with aromas of nutmeg, bramble and earthy tones with deep plummy notes that are intermingled with a sweet floral vegetal note.
The aromas just open beautifully on the palate with silky tannins and a sumptuous yet medium body. This is a complex wine that will keep you enthralled from the first sip to the last drop.
A great wine that will pair well with all the game that will be coming into season. If possible, decant this wine ahead of time to maximise your enjoyment.
On the nose this wine delivers aromas of wild strawberries, ripe bramble fruits, and earthy peppery tones. It has all the wild aromas of a walk in the forest.
The palate of this wine sings with vibrancy, all the stunning aromas from the nose popping onto the palate. The wild berries notes stay until the end.
The quality of this wine speaks for itself. This is a wine you want to curl up on the couch with, or for me a ‘hug in a glass’.
An interesting wine from what I’m told is an interesting winemaker, a winemaker that apparently you will either love or hate, a man who bought the winery off his grandfather at the age of 26 and promptly went about firing all family members involved. Ouch.
The wine itself, on the nose stands up to say hello with some beautiful floral aromas along with wild strawberries, pepper, leather, light herbal and earthy tones.
On the palate this is still a relatively young wine with a light to medium body but with tannins that have some grip. All the aromas do appear on the palate with grace.
I would decant and leave this wine for an hour if you can. It does sing out for some food and in this case I believe it asked for red meat.
This wine has quite a vibrant nose that will kick the senses awake with aromas of bramble fruit and fruit spice such as star anise and nutmeg. There is also a touch of red and black liquorice with some lovely cherry notes popping up.
This is a classic St. Joseph with all the damsons, pepper, wild blackberries and cherry,some earthy notes but it also has hint of liquorice.
There is a lovely balance to this wine that is slightly special in its elegance. This will work beautifully with beef, poultry and pork.
This isn’t just any Châteuneuf du Pape, it is one that was bought by Chateau Lynch Bages in 2006 and a lot of time and care has gone into making this one of the best Châteauneuf du Papes around. It is also an award winning wine; a wine to show you what it is that makes Châteauneuf du Pape so coveted.
This wine is quite layered on the nose with aromas of ripe berry fruits, sweet roasted nuts and some wild earthy character, with a perfume of vegetal aroma, an aroma that reminded one of taking a walk in the forest on a damp autumnal day.
The aromas do flow beautifully onto the palate with the addition of spice, a flicker of orange rind but the wild earthy tones mingling with the wild berries really sing out to give an interesting and delicious wine.
This is a wine with a lot of potential, enjoy over a long evening with or without some new season game.
Suzi is passionate about wine, beer and whiskey too, not forgetting a love of food and travel. She has been a part of this industry for a little over 10 years. She has worked on level 4 in WSET during this time and regularly hosts tastings and staff training in these sectors. She has recently started a blog on all wine, beer and spirit related beverages. You can follow her blog at suzisgrapecrush or follow Suzi on Twitter