A couple of weeks ago, we covered a wine that could technically classify itself as a Cotes du Rhone, but that chose instead to sell under the name of its village, feeling it was a more distinct and distinguished appellation than the more overarching name (which could describe any wine made in the Rhone Valley region that also includes includes mostly grenache grapes and a few other varietals.)
Today’s wine proudly wears the Cotes du Rhone label, and is a more simple expression of the wine that can be produced in the region. Featuring 100 percent grenache grapes, the La Manarine is a dry, bracing mouthful of the same alkaline flavors that grow in the limestone-rich soil of La Manarine vineyards. At $16 or so a bottle, it’s a great deal for a three-year-old wine that serves as a basic expression of Grenache (and thus, an elemental version of what a Cotes du Rhone should be.
How does it look? The La Manarine is a deep, dark indigo with short, almost nonexistent legs, and it swirls very easily, suggesting a light-bodied, flavorful wine with very low sugar content.
How’s it smell? Most of the aroma presented by this wine is dry and tannic — there are some sharp berry smells buried underneath the bitter, alkaline notes that predominate the nose, but the 14 percent alcohol content isn’t overpowering.
But how does it taste? Much like the aroma, the flavor of this is mainly earthy, with bitter limestone notes and a predominant pepper flavor (both black and bell). The fruit flavors — mainly raspberry and sour strawberry — are less predominant in the mix. There’s a slight leathery flavor, and some vague herbal notes. The tannins are present enough to create a balanced flavor, but the aging of the wine rounds out most of the harsher notes that might be present.
What should I eat it with? Beef or other roasted meat, vegetables, or rich cheeses. This is a strong wine that could stand up to whatever strong, flavorful food you might want to serve with it (or overpower any more bland offering it is paired with.) This is also a great wine to serve as the temperature drops a bit — while it is not oaked, it does hold enough tannins and a strong enough alcohol content that it would help to warm the body and the soul on a cold night. (It pairs nicely with the bigger, richer sit-down meals that become more popular as the temperature drops as well, though if you’re trying to sneak in a late barbecue, it might not play well with the stuff you’re throwing on the grill.)