Reviewed: 11th December 2013
Cotes Du Rhone to me is synonymous with spicy grenache-based red wines that offer immediate drinking pleasure and, in some cases, are also capable of short-term cellaring.
The region is quite diverse, with wines from the better sites able to carry the village appellation as part of the name.
In general, I would recommend consuming these wines young, so as to enjoy the fresh/vibrant fruit and spicy overtones.
Many of the better wines for this tasting are imported by Lamont’s in Cottesloe. They appear to offer excellent value at +/- $20 and are worth seeking out.
La Cabotte – Massif d’Uchaux – Cotes Du Rhone Villages – 2011 (17.8). Wow, this could easily be from the McLaren Vale. Gorgeous, fleshy, ripe fruit that is dense and vibrant. This follows on to the palate, where it is only on the finish that the wine gives away its Rhone heritage, with pepper and spicy notes. Souring tannins add life to the vibrant fruit, making this my pick for the tasting.
Pas Des Roches – Grenache – Cotes Du Rhone – Old Vine – 2012 (17.5). An impressive wine that is in a more traditional style, with savoury characters melding well with the mid-weight fruit. Ripe, precise and focused, the palate has decent depth and good mouth-feel. Juicy, grenache-like fruit carries the fine tannins well on the finish. Was even better after being open for a couple of days.
Domaine Magellan – Shiraz/Grenache/Carignan – L’Herault – Vin de Pays – 2010 (17-17.5). Significantly more depth and power here. A savoury, spicy wine that has serious fruit and decent texture. A serious effort, with tannins that cut through the fruit richness on the finish, conferring drive to the palate. Could even take some bottle age.
Able’s Tempest – Pinot Noir/Chardonnay – 2010 (17). Light and fresh though initially, this appears a touch straightforward. In the glass this showed apple blossom and hints of citrus. The palate is nicely textured, clean, fresh and refreshing. The dosage has been very well handled. At around $30, this is not exactly cheap, but I have seen it advertised for under $20 and, at this price, it will make an excellent aperitif this festive season.
La Cabotte – Cotes Du Rhone – Colline – 2011 (17). Attractive nose combining plump, ripe fruit and sweet vanilla highlights. Spicy/earthy notes add complexity. Only medium-bodied, with little in the way of oak on the palate, this is supple, savoury and long. Quite a delicious red that will take food well. Do not be afraid to give this time in a decanter prior to drinking.
Guigal – Cotes Du Rhone – 2010 (16.6). Clean/fresh nose that has attractive fruit and subtle spicy notes. The palate is light and fresh, with souring acidity adding drive. A fruit-driven, easy-drinking style without strong characters. With air, the fleshy fruit opens up and is complemented by black pepper and spice.
Domaine La Vitalis – Cotes Du Rhone – Villages – Cairanne – 2011 (17). Quite closed on the nose, but the palate is a riot of ripe fruit and spice. Medium bodied, but with delicious pepper and spice over juicy plum. Perhaps a bit more new-world in its approach, but this will appeal to those who like a good value, fleshy red.
Chalkboard – Cotes Du Rhone – 2012 (16.5). Pretty, floral, red fruits and supple white pepper on both the nose and the palate. There are also spicy notes and a hint of celery. Supple and textured, the spicy fruit is the predominant character on the finish, though the fine tannins build on the close. A versatile wine that is excellent value at around $13 from Vinatge Cellars.