Sunday, August 10, 2014

Wine Reviews: Northern & Southern Rhone Goodies

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

I caught the wine bug from Rhone wines, and years later I’m still enthralled. The diversity of grapes, terroirs and winemaking styles is enough to keep even the nerdiest oenophile busy.

In this report, we’re focusing on some wines from both the Northern and Southern Rhone regions of France. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted as part of a report for the daily wine blog Terroirist.

2010 Michel & Stéphane Ogier Condrieu “La Combe de Malleval” - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Condrieu
SRP: $86
A light gold color. Floral, bright citrus peel and a rush of limestone and mineral aromas. Some underlying clover honey and oil aromas, but this wine still needs time to open up. On the palate, a real sense of richness, like whipped honey and guava. But there’s clarity to the flavors and freshness from the acid. The mineral flavors are layered and complex, and I love the notes of honeycomb and ginger. Long finish. A real beauty of a young Condrieu. (93 points)

2012 Michel & Stéphane Ogier Viognier de Rosine - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes
SRP: $30
Light cold color. Smells like a tropical fruit stand, with papaya, all sorts of melon and nectarine, sweet flowers and honeyed note. A deep aromatic plunge. Medium bodied, medium acid, a creamy-honeyed mouthfeel. Love the complex flavors of honeydew, papaya, orange slices mixed with lychee nut, nougat and honeycomb. Some mineral and floral potpourri notes as well. I’m interested in cellaring this for three or four years, maybe more. (90 points)

2013 Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
SRP: $30
Bright lemon colored. Vibrant and floral on the nose with papaya, nectarine, lemon curd, mixed in with some honeyed white tea. Fleshy and rich on the palate, with plump tropical fruits, but some medium acid holds it together. Lots of honeycomb, white tea, nougat and waxy elements, some spicy and herbal qualities as well. Quite complex but not burdensome. I’m curious about aging this for three to four years, but it’s plenty expressive at the moment. 80% Roussanne, 10% Grenache Blanc and 10% Clairette. (90 points)

2012 Mas Carlot Costières-de-Nîmes Cuvée Tradition - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Costières-de-Nîmes
SRP: $12
Nose is floral and honeyed with white peach and lime. On the palate, this is creamy but racy, with white peach, tangy lime and quince. I also get some minerals, slate, honeycomb, apple sauce and honeybutter. Impressive in its depth. A blend of Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier. Such a good value. (88 points)

2013 Château Guiot Costières-de-Nîmes Rosé - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Costières-de-Nîmes
SRP: $12
Nose of strawberries, watermelon and wildflowers. Tangy and crisp on the palate with green apple, watermelon rind flavors. I get a nice mix of pepper, oregano, sage and sea shells. Juicy, clean with an oceanic finish. Yum. 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. (88 points)

2013 Mas Carlot Costières-de-Nîmes Rosé Cuvée Tradition - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Costières-de-Nîmes
SRP: $10
Bright salmon color. Spicy, peppery nose with some nettle and rose hips on top of watermelon and wild strawberry. Juicy and ripe with lots of watermelon, cranberry and McIntosh apple flavors, but I’m really enjoying the level of spice and minerals in this wine. I get white pepper, nettle, lemon verbena and some interesting oyster shell and limestone notes. Delicious, crisp and fun but showing a lot of complexity. Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. (88 points)

2013 Château Grande Cassagne Costières-de-Nîmes Rosé - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Costières-de-Nîmes
SRP: $10
Light strawberry color. Bright roses and dandelions on the nose along with McIntosh apple and wild strawberries. Crisp and clean with bright white cherries and strawberries on medium-bodied frame. Some roses, white pepper and minerals give this complexity, but it’s lip-smacking and easy to drink all the way through. (86 points)

2013 Domaine de Fondrèche Côtes du Ventoux Rosé L'Instant - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Ventoux
SRP: $10
Very pale color, like tangerine pith. Lots of fresh flowers on the nose, along with some spicy white pepper and nettles, some oceanic elements. Nervy and mineral-driven on the palate with crisp green apple, strawberry and melon fruit, backed up by racy minerals. I also get some sea shells and white pepper, and the combination is working quite well. I’d love to pair this with salads or oysters. 50% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, 20% Grenache. (87 points)

2012 Domaine André Brunel Côtes du Rhône - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
SRP: $10
Nose of plums, currants, cracked pepper, charcoal and some smoke. On the palate, this wine shows fresh acid and some light tannins. Juicy cherries and raspberries, all of it tart and tangy, but fleshy as well. Some earthy, menthol and balsamic glaze elements, and some impressive mineral and graphite notes. Fun, juicy, food-friendly. 75% Grenache, 15% Cinsault and 10% Syrah. (86 points)

2012 Domaine de Fondrèche Côtes du Ventoux Persia - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Ventoux
SRP: $20
Dark purple color. Dark blackberries and bright cherries on the nose along with loads of spice and some deep floral tones. Bold approach but not overpowering with medium tannins and acid. Some charcoal, spiced steak and olives, but these bold and savory flavors come across on a bright, fresh frame. Lingering minerals and graphite on the finish. Very good stuff, drinkable now but could likely develop well in the cellar. 90 % Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre. (90 points)

2012 Domaine de Fondrèche Ventoux Nadal - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, VentouxSRP: $20Explosive purple color. Smells of raspberries, red currants and blackberries, all thrown together into a mixed berry jam, also some dusty earth, pepper and baking spices. Solid tannic grip, medium- acid. The blackberries and red currants are bold and juicy, dusted with pepper, roasted herbs and campfire soot. A big boy at 14.5% alcohol, less acid than the previous two vintages, but still delicious and well made. 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre. (88 points)

2012 Domaine de Fondrèche Côtes du Ventoux Cuvée Fayard - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Ventoux
SRP: $15
Tons of fig paste, smoky berries, animal hide and pepper on the nose, a bit compact but it opens with time. The fruit is so full and juicy (black cherry, currants, plums) but I love the smoke, charcoal, peppered steak and sweet herbs. Tasty stuff, but this could do with a few years. Long finish with coffee and lavender. 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Mourvédre. (88 points)

2012 Vignobles Mayard Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Alex - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
SRP: $45
Vibrant, deep purple color. Dense nose of blackberry, roasted plums and cassis, backed up by notes of charcoal and pepper. I also get these great lavender and sweet clove aromas. Solid grip to the tannins, but they’re manageable, and the wine shows some medium acid. I love the way the juicy cassis and blackberry fruit is laced with pepper, cedar, anise, roasted chestnut and ginger snap elements. Impressive graphite, iron and mineral tones. Long and very complex, this is a bold and young wine that shows lots of promise. From old-vine Grenache and Mourvedre grown in La Crau and Grand Coulet. (93 points)

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