The Rhône Valley produces red wines that are truly remarkable. Blends dominated by Syrah and Grenache are the foundation for these wines’ fruity and spicy character. Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault commonly use these blends, creating complex and full-bodied wines. The rhone valley red wines have the potential to age well, making them a beautiful representation of the Rhône Valley’s rich history and traditions.
A Journey Through Côtes du Rhône
The wines labeled as Côtes du Rhône use grapes grown throughout the entire Valley. Instead, winemakers can use grapes from the Valley to achieve the flavor profile they are looking for. For instance, Jean-Luc Colombo is one of my favorite producers of Rhône Valley Red Wines. I consider him referral point to understand what the Red Rhône Valley wines are about. Hence, it will be magnificent to start with a wine produced from within the region, and then we will go into specific sub-regions to enjoy the Rhône Valley entirely.
Jean-Luc Colombo Côtes du Rhône Rouge “Les Abeilles”
The grapes of Les Abeilles (French for ‘The Bees’), a Côtes du Rhône Red wine, are from pesticide-free vineyards where bees thrive. The Colombo family, beekeepers, and grape growers have developed the Bee Helpful Program with the Taub Family. Every purchase of Les Abeilles wine supports UC Davis’ honey bee research.
Les Abeilles is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. It has a deep purple color and a lovely aroma, combining violets and plums. When you take a sip, you’ll notice that it has a smooth and silky texture. Moreover, flavors of plums and red fruits, and a touch of spice will enchant you. This wine pairs well with a variety of foods, from roasted chicken and lamb to pork, charcuterie, and cheese platters.
Rhône Valley Red Wines : AOC Luberon
AOC Luberon is located in the southeastern part of the Rhône wine region. When it comes to their red wines, AOC Luberon allows grapes such as Grenache Noir and Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan.
Marrenon AOC Luberon Rouge Inventa Les Combes 2019 ($24)
This is a delicious red wine predominantly of Syrah grapes with a hint of Grenache. Inventa grapes grow on the sunny southern slopes of the Luberon on the west side of the Valley. It has a lovely aroma of red fruits, spices, and herbs. Take a sip and let the intense and juicy flavor of concentrated red and black fruits explode in your mouth, leaving you with a taste sensation that is juicy and refined. The finish is a pleasant taste of balsamic and a toasty flavor. This wine pairs perfectly with steak or any meat dish. If you are a vegetarian, anything mushroom-based, this is your go-to. It’s best to pour this wine into a decanter before sipping, and it’s also suitable for storage.
AOC Costières de Nîmes
I have already recommended the white and rosé wines from Costières de Nîmes, and now that I am exploring and recommending the red wines from this region for the holidays, I can’t help but recognize that the mineral character due to limestones in the area are truly unique.
Although this area used to be a part of Languedoc, since 1989, it has been joined with the Rhône Valley because its bold reds are more representative of what Rhône stands for rather than Languedoc.
The Costières de Nîmes is an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) where the production of takes place particularly in area between the ancient city of Nîmes and the western Rhône delta. The Costières de Nîmes AOC is know fo the red blends of Syrah and Mourvèdre, complemented by a minimum of 25% Grenache and 40% Carignan and Cinsault. These wines are popular for their elegant, well-balanced, and lightly structured characteristics, offering delightful red fruit, blackberry, prune, and black cherry aromas. While some of the wines are rounder and more generous, with a higher level of tannins, they also have exceptional quality. Interestingly, the red wines account for approximately 59% of the total production.
Chateau de Valcombe AOC Costières de Nîmes Château Rouge 2022 ($13)
This wine has a unique character due to a subtle layer of limestone that adds a surprising freshness and mineral touch to it. This is an exceptional case within the Costières de Nîmes wine region. The red blend is made up of Syrah (70%) and Grenache (30%), both coming from vines that are 20 to 25 years old.
The wine has a dark red color and intense black fruit aromas on the nose. On the palate, the blackberry flavors are accompanied by a hint of black olive and spices. It has a fresh, fruity finish with a subtle, delicate tannin structure.
Saint-Joseph in Northern France is a sub-region of the Rhône Valley. Originally known as Vin de Mauves, it was mentioned in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. The first record of vineyards in Saint-Joseph dates back to 1668. The AOC was established in 1956 and expanded in 1971 to its current size, capped at 3000 hectares in 1994.
Syrah is the grape variety predominantly in the wines of Saint-Joseph giving the wines a complex flavors of dark fruits, spice, and mineral notes. AOC Saint Joseph are elegant, balanced, and a moderate structure, and they pair well with various foods, including roasted meats, stews, and game dishes. The wine is typically aged 3-8 years before consumption, depending on the vintage.
Famille Ravoire AOC Saint-Joseph Oriflamme Rouge 2021 ($38)
This Saint-Joseph wine, Oriflamme, is a tribute to the rank of knight banneret that was held by generations of knights in the Ravoire family. Careful blends grapes from the best plots in the appellation to create a rich and enjoyable tasting experience for all to share and discover and produce this Rhône Valley Red Wine.
The wine has a beautiful deep red color and smells like ripe dark fruits with hints of smoke and minerals. When you take a sip, you’ll notice it has smoky pepper flavors and a smooth finish that lasts a while. It’s a delicious wine that’s perfect for any occasion.
After exploring the rosés, whites, and red of Rhône Valley this 2023, you can say you got me at Rhône.