Red Cotes-du-Rhone wines
Generic red Cotes-du-Rhone wines don’t offer much to shout about. They are often dull and slightly overpriced. But just occasionally you’ll discover a Cotes-du-Rhone that tastes like a Chateauneuf-du-Pape and at a perfectly reasonable price. These are the wines we’re concerned with today.
But how can you identify these diamonds amongst the coal dust? Here’s a little trick: pay a little more! While it makes sense to try to make every penny count when hunting for value wines, it can also make sense to sometimes pay slightly more, and this is especially true with Cotes-du-Rhone red wines. Adding $5 to your budget won’t bankrupt you but it will make all the difference to the quality of the wine in your bottle. For example, the Chateau de Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone Les Deux Albion 2017 costs $24.99 (bij Colaris slechts € 14,95), but is noticeably richer, deeper and more concentrated as a result of breaking through that $20 barrier.
A red Cotes-du-Rhone is often a blend based on grenache (noir) and syrah with mourvedre and a touch of cinsaut and carignan, creating a savory, spicy and medium-bodied GSM style. The full list of 21 sanctioned grapes also includes the famously complex blends used for a red Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This means you can sometimes find the finest qualities of a Chateauneuf in a Cotes-du-Rhone. In addition, some Cotes-du-Rhone vineyards are just a few rows away from Chateauneuf vineyards (Colaris: zoals Les Champauvins van Grand Veneur)
But take note: some red Cotes-du-Rhone may taste overly jammy and untamed, especially from a hot vintage, and some could be way too rustic and funky for sensitive palates. In rare cases, you might even find yourself chewing off your own tongue due to severe Brettanomyces spoilage.
However, the appellation is an easily neglected jewel of France, and at its best delivers an array of savory spices mixed with racy red and black fruit. An outstanding Cotes-du-Rhone rouge is able to offer texture and concentration but is rarely hefty. In other words, something not unlike a good Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but more down to earth with immense drinkability.
The recent memorable vintages of 2016 and 2017 offer great choices for these good-quality and affordable wines. They are great for opening now and are readily available in the market. We have selected eight of them below – all around $30 or less. Order a pizza or a burger before you pull out the cork and toast. Cheers!