Wednesday, May 19, 2010

cotes du rhone villages

I only found out in my late 20s that I really like the red wines of the Cotes du Rhone area (apologies for the bad spelling, does anybody know how to produce an accent circonflexe in HTML???), and have in recent years managed to pin my preferences down more precisely and learned to distinguish the various "Appellation Controlée" labels of the region (AOC). By sheer coincidence, some of my French relatives moved to the area that produces my favourite wines, so if I recognise a place name that I remember from driving through on my way to visit them, that usually means I will like the wine.

Among the many villages that produce Cotes du Rhone, only around 90 are allowed to put Cotes du Rhone Villages AOC on the label. Even more selective is the AOC Cotes du Rhone Villages followed by the name of a village - only 18 villages have the right to append their name, and here in the UK it is mighty difficult to find these wines. I have found such wines from Rasteau, Plan de Dieu and Saint Maurice at Marks and Spencers, and Valréas at the co-op. Still looking for sources for the other 14.

Two of the villages in the area have gained the right to their own AOC, namely Gigondas and Vacqueyras. Gigondas is typically outside of the range I am prepared to pay (as is the Chateauneuf du Pape), but Vacqueyras is usually affordable and very good. Just to make sure people don't overlook it, both villages put their name not only on the label but also emblazon it in the actual glass of the bottle:

PS. Wikipedia tells me that 2009 is an exceptionally good vintage, so be prepared for further ravings when that wine arrives ...

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