For our June wine tasting, David chose the white wines of the Rhone Valley in France.
While the Rhone is more often recognized for its reds, it also produces a great deal of white wines, made from less familiar grapes such as Marsanne, Roussane, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, and Clairette.
There are many Rhone Valley appellations, from simple Cotes du Rhone, to the more prestigious Condrieu, Chateauneuf du Pape, or Hermitage (there are many others). As with most of France, these wines are organized by where they are from, and not what grapes are in them.
In a mixed blessing, our two guest tasters brought wines from the Rhone that were red, instead of white. While they were not in accordance with the tasting rules, there were nonetheless a good contrast, and were certainly enjoyable.
All of the wines exhibited many Rhone Valley characteristics, with the whites having interesting richness, and the reds having expected earthiness.
Great thanks to Addy and Sally for their wines and comments.
First Place: Perrin Cotes du Rhone Blanc Reserve 2005. Showed freshness, along with car wax, feet, Playdough, and eraser. Ali commented that it was like "cake mix, that I had to add egg and oil to". Notes of unripened cherry and cranberries. Rich in texture and long in finish. Received 29 points. Andy's bottle. About $12.
Second Place: Alain Jaume & Fils Domaine Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2006. Plenty of pears, watermelon, bubble gum, vanilla, flowers, and honey. Rich, unctuous texture, with red apples and minerals. Strawberries show up on the finish. Received 20 points. Ali's bottle. About $23.
Third Place: Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2003. Smelling of meat, brown sugar, liverwurst, toffee, butterscotch, minerals, peanut butter, and licorice. Color was reminiscent of buttered popcorn. Full-bodied, with flavors of crème brulee, melon, medicine, nutmeg, and apple-cinnamon. Ali was reminded of "vomit", while Andy felt that there was "a lot going on, but I enjoy the ride". Received 15 points. Kristin's bottle. About $10.
Fourth Place: Lucien et Andre Brunel Les Cailloux Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 2005. Moldy, like a basement, along with apples, flowers, burnt matchstick, and potato chips. Overtly fruity on the attack, then exhibits onions and radishes. Shorter finish than the rest, with a touch of harshness. Received 14 points. David's bottle. About $35.
First Place: Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone 2005. More funky on the nose than the other red, along with jam, pepper, black fruits, and a wild quality. Round, and featuring tobacco, leather, and cherries. Sally commented, "this goes down easier". 16 points. Sally's bottle. About $12.
Second Place: Louis Bernard Chateauneuf du Pape 2003. Spicy black pepper aromas, with "subtle farminess" (Andy), blackberries, and eucalyptus. Youthful and fresh. Pepper, wood, tobacco, and herbs on the palate. Not full-bodied, but rustic and with noticeable tannins. Andy decided that it was "very fall-ish". 14 points. Addy's bottle. About $32.
JUNE 2007: BATTLE OF THE RHONE VALLEY WHITES (AND 2 REDS)