The Seductive Flavors of Côtes du Rhône Blends

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Côtes du Rhône wines are mostly grape blends, not single-variety wines. The red stars are Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Mourvèdre (a blend often called “GSM.”). Winemakers use another 12 unusual red varieties to add a little spice or color to the blend. It changes depending on the vineyard location.

The red blends make up 80% of all the wines produced in the Côtes de Rhône, particularly in the South. Northern Rhône is dominated by Syrah. Grape blends make the delightful dry rosés. The oh-so-aromatic white grapes are led by Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne.

Côtes du Rhône reds have a minimum of 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah and/or Mourvèdre and a maximum of 20% of other grape varieties. Villages and Cru appellations further define grapes in the blend or single variety.

Pour now and taste the black currant, cherry, plum and spicy flavors.

Grenache is the go-to grape in the southern Rhône. Its color is light but the taste is seductive with heady fullness and flavors of blackcurrant and rich spices.

Syrah is characteristic of the northern end of the Côtes du Rhône. It is a gem that puts full flavor and taste in the glass. High in tannins and lower in acidity, it makes a drink-now or cellar wine that is stylish and a bit sassy.

Mourvèdre’s origins are a mystery. This powerful, full-bodied, perfumed grape has become so special that it has its own conservatory to preserve and develop its clones. It is a critical part of the blend.

For whites, rich and full-body Grenache blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne blanche, Bourboulenc, and Viognier are the stars with a maximum of 20% of other white varieties.

These wines have character, something you can always taste in the glass.

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Published on July 5, 2018