“What did the Romans ever do for us?” If you’re a wine lover, if you are reading this it’s safe to say you are, the answer to that question is “a lot!” Not least of which includes the initial cultivation of the Rhone Valley wine vineyards. While it is true that the Ancient Greeks actually first planted in that area, it was the Romans who really established it as an area with the great vineyard reputation it has today. The Romans used the river as a sort of highway through France, (or Gaul, if you want to be historically accurate) planting vineyards the whole way. After the decline of the Roman Empire the wine trade in this area was severely impacted and really only flourished in the southern area, closer to the mediterranean, and in the north, the areas that supplied Lyon. In the 14th century, when the papacy moved from Rome to Avignon, the areas in between began to flourish once more, becoming the famous region we know and love to this day.
The Côtes du Rhône AOC accounts for about 50% of the wine produced from the valley and is usually a red blend of primarily Grenache and Syrah. The Les Allies Côtes du Rhône red blend 2010 is just that, it consists of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre. Syrah is a darker grape with powerful full bodied flavor. Grenache is a late ripening grape, and tends to do best in hotter climates, therefore is dominant in southern Rhone, it is often used in blends to add a sweeter fruitness to a wine. Now, Mourvèdre is most popular in France, it produces rather tannic wines and tends to have earthier flavors, and is usually used in GSM blends. I’ll let you guess what that stands for if you don’t already know (hint: this wine is a GSM blend).
This week’s bottle is a lighter “entry level” Côtes du Rhône, which makes it very easily drinkable. The nose is of violets with some earthy undertones. It has prominent red raspberry flavors, along with some lighter peppery spice. There is a little oakiness on the finish. The tannins and acidity are a tiny bit harsh to balance well with the wine, but other than that it is a very pleasant wine to sip on with dinner. I think I paid around $13 for the bottle, and for that price it was great! Overall I give it an 8.5, since it could be better, but putting all the more expensive bottles of Côtes du Rhône aside, for $13 this one would be pretty hard to beat.
Do you have any suggestions for a future bottle of the week? Let me know!