Tasting the Wines of the Rhone Valley, 2023

Tasting the Wines of the Rhone Valley, 2023

With 31 appellations, 34 grape varieties planted, and 1592 independent wineries, France’s Rhone Valley is a complex and varied region that can challenge even the most seasoned of wine enthusiasts. Stretching 150 miles along the Lyon river, the terrain goes from rocky and mountainous to coastal as it abuts the Mediterranean Sea, the weather changing dramatically along the way. Recently the Academy du Rhone sponsored a tasting for trade and media here in Austin, where we took a deep dive into every one of those appellations and tasted through 17 wines representative of a large swatch of the area. Here’s a brief look at everything tasted.

2020 Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone Blanc – A white blend, crisp green apple, hint of tropics, and a modest mineral note. Great way to start the day. A- / $12

2022 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone – A classic Provencal rose, strawberry and mild florals, restrained fruit. Excellent value. A- / $17

2020 Chateau Pegau Setier Cotes du Rhone Villages – A classic GSM blend, leathery and peppery with green herbs dominant. Fun chocolate notes, tannins giving a beefiness to the wine. Fruit is quiet as of yet. A- / $16

2021 Chateau Husson 45 Cotes du Rhone – More fruit-forward, then herbal with notes of sage and lots of pepper, blackberry bramble out back. A bit hoary. B / $15

2020 Domaine Cabasse Cotes du Rhone Sablet – Low abv, bright red fruit with well-integrated oak notes, raspberry, and a touch of balsamic. Very clean. A- / $16

2018 Domaine Malmont Cotes du Rhone Seguret – Opulent with ample tannin, plumped up with both red and black fruit, earthy but softening a bit. A / $30

2019 Domaine Rouge-Bleu Mistral Cotes du Rhone Villages Sainte Cecile – Classic Rhone character, with pepper, mint, lots of tannin; clinging to some acidity, but the experience remains weighty. B+ / $21

2022 Chateau Trinquevedel Tavel – From the sole rose-only AOC in France; more serious than the Chapoutier, with stone fruit, melon, and dried flowers; slight sherry note lingering. A- / $18

2020 Domaine de la Charbonniere Vacqueyras – Bold chocolate notes here, some terpenes, and an earthy intensity; classy and long-legged. A / $25

2021 Domaine Autrand Mosaique Vinsobres – The most northern of crus in the southern Rhone valley, here we find a far more acidic quality, with lots of red, strawberry-driven fruit, then black pepper and some basil. Complex. A- / $20

2016 Domaine les Alexandrins Condrieu – 100% viognier, this is a love-it-or-hate-it white for many, rich vanilla melding with flowery notes, ultimately evoking nougat. Restrained today. A- / $65

2020 Francois Villard Poivre et Sol Saint-Joseph – 100% syrah; engaging on the nose, with chocolate and slightly raisiny notes driving some balsamic elements. Lean, green herbs on the back end, fermented strawberries on the finish. A- / $35

2021 Auguste Clape Saint-Peray – A big, chewy white of 80% marsanne and 20% roussanne. Rounded and rich, very reminiscent of sake. A- / $80

2018 Domaine Gallety Cotes du Vivarais – Strange and funky, herbal and rhubarb, saffron notes. Overwhelmed by earthy, barnyard character. C- / $30

2022 Chateau Beaubois Expression Costieres de Nimes – A white blend, clean and driven by lemon curd, with a melony finish. Saline and moderated minerals on the finish; unusual for the Rhone. B+ / $20

2021 M. Chapoutier La Ciboise Luberon – Pretty chocolate notes, with tobacco emerging. A bit quiet on the finish, with some earthy funk developing. B+ / $18

2020 Cave Poulet et fils Tradition Clairette de Die – Sweet, sparkling dessert in the form of 75% muscat blanc de petit grains and 25% clairette; apricots and peaches just as you would expect; a curiosity but certainly a novelty to enjoy once in your life. B / $20

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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