The Pleasure Rhône

If I’m not tasting Bordeaux, then it seems to be Burgundy; if not French, then Spanish; so I have had to re-tune my palate in the last ten days to the pleasure (or, perhaps I should say, experience) of tasting a range of Barolos and wines from the Rhône valley.

The Barolo tasting was a bit special with wines from top producers from older vintages. The combined cost of these 12 wines at today’s prices must have been just shy of £1000. You might think I would have been enchanted, swept away and converted to all things Italian, and am now busying myself making room in my cellar for anything ending in o or i. Not so. I don’t get it. Too much tannin and too much acidity made even more unstable with not enough fruit, elegance or substance. Ok, some of them were drinkable, well, if pushed, actually quite tasty and I know I would enjoy them if given to me with dinner but no way would I want to spend the money I would have to to buy them. Perhaps I should take my own advice and taste Barolo more regularly to coax my palate round. But for now, my shoe closet can benefit where my cellar loses out.


Rhone logo

The Rhône wine logo, loved equally by men and women, I suspect, but for very different reasons.




No such effort was required for the range of Rhônes sampled the other day. 28 wines from Crozes-Hermitage, St. Joseph and Côte-Rotie in the north to Beaumes de Venise and Rasteau in the south, not a dud amongst them and more, they were appealing, approachable, complex, hugely enjoyable and, best of all, affordable.

The Côte-Roties are expensive wines admittedly at around £35-£45 a bottle but worth every penny. They are exactly how Syrah should be. You don’t have to work at finding the nuances, complexities, different levels of delight – they are all there shaking your palate around, waking up your taste buds and caressing your tongue. Apologies for that nonsense, but you know what I mean.

The first thing that struck me with the Rasteaus was why I don’t drink them more often. Actually, that was the second thing after the intense smack of black juicy fruit. I love Grenache, always have, and believe it to be a much under-rated grape variety, and they sure know what to do with it in Rasteau. This is the place which is pretty much the furthest north that Grenache will ripen well and where there is this marginality you tend to get the most interesting and complex wines.

Grenache in Rasteau

A  Grenache bush vine in Rasteau

Coincidentally, today, 20th September 2013 is International Grenache Day so you know what you have to do………Look out for these:

TWS RasteauDomaine des Escaravailles 2011 £8.50 The Wine Society



Cambridge wine cellarsPerrin et Fils L’Andeol 2011 £14.50 Tanners



SoumadeDomaine La Soumade, Confiance 2009 £28.75 Berry Brothers & Rudd



For more information on the wines of the Rhône go to