One of the secrets to finding good tasting affordable wine is to look at Europe's prize offerings and then look to wines they make that don't fit the famous region's rules. You can buy Cristia's Chateau Neuf du Pape for a special occasion but what about just for dinner tonight?? Then you grab their Grenache for $9!
Andre Brunel Grenache $11.00
We've found that many of the rock star wine makers in France own property outside of traditional AOC regions. While they can't charge big dollars, they can't help but make good wine. This is a good example, being a IGP Vaucluse with about all Grenache from the southern Rhone. Pretty black raspberry, fennel, and a little smoky tobacco showing on the nose. Soft fruit jumps out on the palate and its very drinkable. Buy two because they are great patio pounders.
Mas Carlot Rose $11.00
Nathalie Blanc-Marès crafts this lovely, mouthwatering rose from the Southern Rhone that is a classic blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre. It's medium-bodied, with pretty cherry, herb and stone. Another crazy good deal!
Leon Perdigal Cote du Rhone $12.00
With a ruby red robe, this wine features a bouquet of red berries with hints of pepper and garrigue herbs. On the palette, the red fruit flavors carry over with spicy, well integrated tannins on a medium body.
This wine isn't just fun to say, it's incredibly delicious too! Full bodied, with flavors of grapefruit, melon, and citrus. This wine has mouth watering acidity, and a minerality that is reminiscent of the Mediterranean that the vines grew along. This is sure to become your new favorite white!
From vineyards dating back to Roman times, comes this rich and full bodied blend from the lower Rhone Valley. Lovely floral and citrus nose, bold flavors of stone fruit, peach, pear and lime zest. These overlooked wines can stand up to about anything.
Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone $15.00
Delas Freres Croze Hermitage $17.00
Nice meaty Syrah dominates but well balanced with spice, blackberry and some herbal notes. A bit of violet shows from the 10% Grenache. Good structure, nice clean peppery finish in an easy drinking wine that pairs with just about anything!
Wine geeks know of Gigondas and Vacqueras that show off Grenache like no other. Bordering both is Beaumes de Venise which is known for fortified Muscat. On a steep hillside (at 1500 ft!) twin sisters Sabine and Isabelle make this earthy, spicy blend of Grenache, Syrah and Counoise. A gorgeous wine.
Domaine de Fondreche Fayard $19.00
Perhaps the best value region in all of the Rhone Valley for red wine, if this was in Chateaunuef-du-Pape it would be well over 150, not so in Cotes du Ventoux. Smooth cherries and round black fruits dominate the nose and palate with a lingering finish.
Plan Pegau $19.00
A wild blend from 4 grapes and 3 different vintages! This rich, meaty red captures the essence of the Southern Rhone Valley, with layers of red and dark fruit character, soft supple tannins, and complex spice notes from extended aging in small oak barrels.
La Champine $21.00
Condrieu is one of those wines that can break your heart and your wallet forever. Unlike any other white wine, Viognier in the Northern Rhone takes on magical ethereal yet contradictory character. Tastes acidic but it isn't, seems like it should be better with age but it dies quickly, fleshy weighty body but so delicate, and on we go. Viognier from the US tends to have the character of canned pear juice, and even Southern Rhone versions lack much depth. But it turns out surrounding Grillet and Condrieu is the Collines Rhondaniennes where Viognier can now be had at a fraction of the price as its famous neighbors. No its not Condrieu but its close enough to still break your heart while leaving your wallet intact.
The Barrot family produces pure, unpretentious, classically-styled Chateauneuf-du-Pape from their 40 acres of vines scattered throughout 28 different parcels. This abundance of tiny plots helps protect against hail. Winemaking here is very straightforward and unfussy: no de-stemming of the grapes; fermentation of all varietals together; long, slow macerations; long aging in large, old foudres; bottling without fining or filtration.
Gaillard Cornas $43.00
From 2 acres of south facing granite laden hillside. Elegant and a bit subtle but very soft and pretty. Lighter than many other syrahs and very drinkable already. Nice hint of fat but mostly soft violets with just a little grip
One of the finest, and often most forgotten about, white wine regions in the world. If you like california chardonnay or white burgundies then you will love this wine. Apricots, asian pears, lychee fruit and creamy goodness.