Winecast 54 – When in Rhone

by Tim Elliott on March 9, 2006

This month’s theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday, our monthly, global wine tasting event, is provided by Jathan from the Winexpression blog. He encouraged us to find wines made from Rhône varietals no matter where in the world they came from for his “When in Rhône” theme. Listed in his announcement were some 22 varietals common to France’s Rhône Valley, known for their blends of mostly red, and occasionally, white wines. Outside of relative well known varietals such as Syrah, Grenache and increasingly Viognier, most of the other 20 are rare outside the region.

Longtime readers and listeners of my podcast will recall I have covered those more common Rhône varietals in the past, so I eschewed the “easy way out” and visited Chuck at Solo Vino in St. Paul for some recommendations. After all, they were the store that I found the bottling of Counoise for WBW 18 last month. After a bit of discussion and consideration of some of their many Rhône blends, and some other obscure varietals, we selected two blends for tasting this time; one white and one red.

The first wine selected is a white from Domaine de Piaugier, their Sablet Blanc 2004, a blend of 40% Grenache Blanc, 30% Clairette, 20% Viognier, and 10% Roussanne. The vineyard is located in the southern Rhône, where Sablet is one of the 16 villages that comprises the Côtes du Rhône appellation. Although 90% of the wines made here are red or rose, whites like Domaine de Piaugier can be found in many wine stores around the world. Grenache Blanc is the white version of the popular red variety while Clairette and Roussanne are common blending grapes of the northern Rhône where they are used in both red and white wines.

Domaine de Piaugier, Sablet Blanc, Côtes du Rhône Villages 2004 ($22) – Clear light straw in color with a tinge of green; peach, apricot and spice aromas. Stone fruit and honey flavors combine with a rich mouthfeel and lively acidity, finishing with just a touch of lychee. A big, dry white that will stand up to more substantial food matches than most whites. Don’t drink this one too cold or you will miss the considerable nuances of aroma and flavor. Score: 9/10.

The second blend, this time a red from the southern Rhône, is from Domaine du Trapadis, their Côtes du Rhône from the 2001 vintage. The grapes used in this blend are 60% Grenache, 13% Carignan, 10% Syrah, 10% Cinsault and 7% Mourvedre. While Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre are well known in the Rhône, Carignan and Cinsault are somewhat below the radar. In fact, Carignan is the most widely grown wine grape in France, mostly appearing in blends for its spice, deep color and full body or in vin ordinaire from carafes at bistros throughout the country. Cinsault is also grown in quantity in France where it is almost always used in blends for it’s high acidity and soft tannins. Cinsault was also crossed with Pinot Noir to create Pinotage, a varietal popular in South Africa.

Domaine du Trapadis, Côtes du Rhône 2001 ($15) – Ruby color with pronounced aromas of black cherry and earth; raspberry fruit flavors with dusty tannins and nice acidity make this a good food wine. The nose may be too funky for some tasters, but I found this added to the overall experience. Score: 8.5/10.

So the best wine of the two, is the Domaine de Piaugier, Sablet Blanc, Côtes du Rhône Villages 2004, which I also found to be a nice value. The Domaine du Trapadis, Côtes du Rhône 2001 is another fine value for those looking for a red.

Thanks again to Jathan from Winexpression.com for a great theme and for Solo Vino for providing the wines for tasting this month. See you all in April for a post and podcast actually appearing on Wednesday, if not before ;-)

Show Notes:

00:24 – Welcome
00:35 – Wine Blogging Wednesday background
01:15 – “When in Rhone” Theme
02:44 – Domaine de Piaugier, Sablet Blanc, Côtes du Rhône Villages 2004 ($22)
04:30 – Domaine du Trapadis, Côtes du Rhône 2001 ($15)
06:21 – Best of tasting/best value
06:54 – Getting back to weekly podcasts
07:54 – First winner of QPR Wines subscription (congrats, Sandy!)
08:42 – Listener survey for chance to win iPod Nano
09:06 – Contact Details
09:30 – To sponsor Winecast contact Backbeat Media
09:35 – Next Show Theme

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Copyright 2006 Acan Media, Inc. Licensed to the public under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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