If writing these wine reviews has taught me anything, it’s that wines and winemakers with foreign-language websites are probably going to be good — or, at least, authentic to the style they’re representing. Especially in Europe, where English-speaking web designers can’t be that hard to find, the refusal to reach out to the Western world suggests, at least, that the vintners’ priority is not making money, but making good wine.
Today’s bottle seems to be another candidate. The wine, made by Alain Jaume & Son at their Domaine Grand Veneur, is one of many wines the family bottles every year. (They also make a white Cotes du Rhone, a rosé, and several other vintages.) The red Cotes du Rhone is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and a grape called Cinsaut, a hot-weather grape that adds softness to big, tannic grapes like Grenache.
How does it look? This Cotes du Rhone is a fairly translucent, deep garnet color, with thin legs that cling easily to the glass. I’m expecting something fairly dry, but thick-bodied.
How does it smell? I get tart cherry notes with a bit of a floral finish. The wine’s aged for a year or two, so I’m not surprised I didn’t find any tannins on the nose.
But how does it taste? The Domaine’s website suggests you look for raspberry and blackberry, with smooth tannins and a bit of licorice and pepper on the finish. For once, that’s exactly right, even after running through a Google translator. I was surprised this wine didn’t have more of that prominent green pepper flavor we associate with Cotes du Rhone, but it’s very good, and layered.
What should I eat with it? This wine is bold enough to stand up to a roast chicken or other poultry (maybe even fried chicken?), or maybe with cheese (be that grilled cheese, pizza, or maybe nachos.) The Cotes du Rhone is complex enough to drink before dinner, too, or after. (Maybe not instead.)