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Wine Review: Products from southeastern France worth a look

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The French wine-producing region of Cotes du Rhone in southeastern France has become famous for its rose selections and the style called Chateauneuf-du-Pape (New House of the Pope), a red wine that can be made from as many 13 different grape varieties.

Most of the red wines produced in the Cotes Du Rhone are blends of three or four different grape varieties such as mourvedre, carignan, grenache and syrah. Where these red wines divert from others is that the vintners of the Cotes du Rhone also occasionally will include white grapes in small amounts to add a more floral aroma to their wines. What troubles me is all of the sampling that must go into the creating of the final blend; I would believe that it is formidable at best.

The wines of the Cotes du Rhone also are a first-class lesson in the differences that location makes with southeastern French wines and California productions. There is a noticeable difference. The wines take a totally different route in the flavor and finish department, presenting what is often described as silky smooth. These wines also are in the affordable range, so trying them won’t break the bank. However, I do not believe that these wines will be readily available in local supermarkets; they are definitely on the internet or stores devoted to wine.

Cotes du Rhone 2017 Domaine Saint Gayan Trescartes ($17)
This grenache, syrah and mourvedre blend called Trescartes (three cards) is just one of the many blends the region is famous for. This blend boasts a medium body and a full fruity aroma featuring dried summer fruits, blackberries, dark plums and spice. I was impressed by the softness and depth of flavor of this wine. It is definitely a step in the right direction for the modern French wines.

Domaine du Pere Caboche 2018 Cotes du Rhone ($15)
This wine also is a blend of three grape varieties that do magnificently in the Rhone region: grenache, carignan and syrah. The addition of carignan, a grape variety that California winemakers seem to have rejected, adds a whole new layer of flavor and aroma to the mix. Together, these grape varieties combine to make a soft, easy-to-drink wine that has an aroma heavy with dried fruits, leather, tobacco and spice. The flavor also features these aromas and a delightful under-flavor of blackberries.

E. Guigal 2016 Cotes Du Rhone ($15)
You know this is a well-aged wine just from the date alone. It shows all of the softness that age imparts. The wine exhibits the flavors and aromas of red and black fruits and the tell-tale signature of ground pepper. The wine also presents a silky and long-lasting finish. This wine’s producers claim it will last unopened for a long time in the bottle if you are one of those who like to lay their wines down to allow them to improve with several years of quiet resting. I must admit that I have never been able to age my wines. I can’t resist the fact that they are lying there doing nothing when they should be opened and enjoyed. As one of my wine mentors once admonished me, “Don’t worship your wines, drink them.”

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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