Rhone Valley wines not only reds but stunning whites
Rhone Valley wines – As you know, I tend to taste and consume a lion share over the course of a year. I am a member of a few tasting groups, but most of the time, I taste in trade tastings and with my friends and family. Since the start, it was obvious that the most efficient way to remember what wines I consumed was to write a tasting note. Over the years, I have written thousands of tasting notes. Sometimes the notes are quite sketchy, but sip by sip and bottle by bottle, the notes keep getting better and better.
As a wine professional, I find that the best environment to taste the most wine is at a fair or a salon. You have the liberty to taste at your own pace, spent time with a producer and discover a new region. However, to profit the most of a wine fair, you need to be able to produce fast and concise notes.
I recently I spend a few days in the Rhone Valley, for the Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône, the bi-yearly wine wine fair of the region. There were more 7 exhibitions and 600 producers to discover. From April 10th-13th, this was a chance for me to get very intimate with Rhone wines. In the weeks and months that follow, i would share with you my own personal wine discoveries of Rhone wines
Here are some interesting economic facts about Rhone Valley Vineyards. The region comprises 70,000 hectares and 5300 vineyard operations and their wines are enjoyed in 200 countries ( 2016 figures). The area brought an impressive economic activity: 1.5 billion Euros and some 372 million bottles sold. Canada is the 4th largest export client for Rhone wines with 36.8 million market value behind Belgium, the UK and the United States. Source: InterRhone
To many wine lovers, the Rhone is synonym with red wines. Although this is true-81% of the 2016 harvest was red-, there is a considerable interest for the white wines. Whites represent only a 13% and it is expected to increase in the future due linked to a mix of factor such as the continuing evolution or shift to lighter or fusion cuisine. In a press conference, led by Michel Chapoutier, the president of Inter Rhone, he explained that in the past it was traditional to favour red wine over white production. However, he admits that the terroir of the Rhone is suitable for both red and white grape varieties.
From white Hermitage to Condrieu and Saint Joseph in the north to Vacqueyras and Lirac, these were some of the whites that caught my attention in the fair and are available in the Canadian market as well.. Please note that this is a quick introduction and I will continue the coverage in the weeks to come by.. I hope that you enjoy these tasting notes. The vintages that i tasted may not be available yet so you may want to hang to this article
Recommended whites from the Rhone:
Clos Bellane CDR Village Valréas-‘Les Échalas’ 2014
SAQ # 12235827 $32.75 for the 2013 vintage
Valréas is an village appellation of the Southern Rhone established in 1967. The color of Valréas is red with a tiny 3% in white. Grape varieties include Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne,Viognier and Bourboulenc.
Les Echalas is a monovarietal Marsanne from high altitude vineyards near the Valréas village. The high altitude as well as the soil composition rich in calcium confers this wine the perfect combo of finesse and aromatics. Complex nose bringing to mind honey and wax, peach with slivered almonds. On the mouth, refreshing with a perfect balance and roundness and pretty flavours of jasmine and tangerines.
Domaine Mourgues du Grès Terre d’Argence 2015
SAQ # 11874264 $22.75 for the 2014
The AOP Costieres de Nimes was established in 1986, and produces a tiny but savoury 5 % white wines. The main white grape varieties are Grenache Blanc, Roussane and Marsanne.
Château Mourgues du Grès is located between the towns of Beaucaire and Bellegarde. The domaine sits in a exceptional terroir. The soil is impoverished and stoney, with slopes perfectly exposed towards the south and a marine influence from the Camargue and the Mediterranean moderates the summer heat.
Terre d’Argence is a white blend of Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache et Petit Manseng The nose is quite tonic with complex mineral nuances that bring to mind stones and chalk with a pretty note of lime. On the mouth, the wine is exuberant, round and creamy with lovely floral flavors that bring to mind acacia. Crisp finale with a lovely bitterness.
Domaine le Sang des Cailloux Un Sang Blanc Vacqueyras 2015
SAQ Signature # 11892016 $57.00 for the 2014
Vacqueyras was the second Côtes du Rhônes Villages to be upgraded to AOC status, and rightly so. Whites constitute 4% of the production. Vacqueyras’ main white grape varieties include Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier (which make up 80% at most of a particular vineyard), producing wines with golden color and a rich, fragrant, floral nose that are bright, citrusy, and light- to medium-bodied.
The charismatic Serge Férigoule has, over the last two decades, has done a labor of love rather than most to raise the profile of Vacqueyras. Located on gently ascending limestone vineyards between Vacqueyras itself and Sarrians, the biodynamic wines of Le Sang des Cailloux are known for the longevity and richness. The Sang blanc is a blend of Clairette,Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc,Roussanne,Marsanne and Viognier
On the nose beautiful undertones of almond tart, lavender honey with mandarine peel, On the mouth, balanced and very fine with flavours that bring to mind a striking minerality, jasmine and white tea.