Cold weather wines from the Rhone Valley to the Hudson Valley
The winter months are upon us..the temperature drops, the fires blaze and we look for the warmth of shared times around the hearth. These times call for heartier “winter wines” that warm the heart and soul.
While there are many options to fulfill this style of wine there are a couple worth taking a little more in depth look at. One of our favorite winter wine options comes from the Rhône Valley in France. While there are many options from the Rhone, let’s take a look at some of the great value wines of the Southern Rhône, in particular those of the Cotes Du Rhône.
There are white, rosé and red wines that make up the 420 million bottle production with the majority of the wine being red and white being the lowest percentage of production. Red and rosé wines are made from Grenache Noir, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignane, Counoise and Mourvèdre grape varieties with the requirement that Grenache must be a minimum of 40% to be labeled as a Cotes Du Rhone.
The reds range in color from deep crimson and ruby to almost purple and are generally full-bodied with rich but smooth tannins and all pair very well with game and other rich meat dishes. (Remember there are always style exceptions so there are some cotes Du Rhône that may be a little lighter in body).
The whites must contain a minimum blend of 80% Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, and Viognier. Ugni Blanc and Picpoul Blanc may be used as secondary varieties. The whites range from dry with a tang of citrus to fuller, rounder wines which may be enjoyed as an aperitif.
Beyond those wines labeled as Cotes Du Rhône, there are those labeled as Cotes Du Rhône-Villages. These wines are produced in 95 designated communes that are viewed as having superior growing climates. And at an even higher rung on the quality ladder are the “Crus”; the most demanding level of distinction, a total of 15 crus are allowed to be recognized by their village name without requiring the mention of Côtes du Rhône on the label. Some of the noted Crus from the Southern Rhône, are Gigondas, Lirac, Vacqueyras, and probably the most famous-Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
If you would like to try some cold weather wines outside of the Rhône Valley, there are a couple of quick tips to indicate they will fit with your cold weather needs. The wine label is in many cases a good indicator of style. One way of discovery is through winemaker comments indicating how the wine was produced; for example, if the wine was fermented or aged in oak, you should expect a little more body than one that hasn’t seen oak.
Another trick is looking at alcohol content; a wine with 14% alcohol is going to have more weight than on with 12%. But the best way to learn more is to stop by Vino 100 and have a chat with me…I can recommend the perfect wine for your meal and budget. Enjoy!