Wines of the Rhone
Most of our Rhône wines come from Arnoux et Fils who are based in the beautiful village of Vacqueras in the southern Rhône valley. In the early 18th century, the landlord Count François de Castellanne, de Lauris, de Vacqueyras bestowed a vineyard upon Pierre Bovis, an ancestor of the Arnoux family. The dynasty is now represented by Marc and Jean-François Arnoux. Today the Arnoux vineyard covers 40 hectares but wine is made from various other places in the Rhône valley too including this Crozes-Hermitage from the Northern Rhône. Located near the famous Hermitage vineyards, this wonderfully full-bodied wine is made from 100% Syrah. With aromas of red fruit, a full and well-balanced body and a long finish it is a magnificent accompaniment to meat dishes and cheese and will keep for 5-8 years.
This appellation is the largest in the Northern Rhône and shares much in style and reputation with Crozes-Hermitage. While Saint-Joseph is primarily a red wine region based on the Syrah grape, there may be up to 10% Marsanne and Roussanne included according to AOC regulations. The appellation is named for St. Joseph, originally the name of a vineyard which was owned by the Jesuits. Although some white grapes are permitted in making red wine in the Northern Rhône, this one, like our Crozes-Hermitage, is 100% Syrah which is the only permitted red grape in this area. With aromas of red fruit, it has a full and well-structured body. Dark fruit, cherry and pepper notes unfold on the palate. There is a long finish and it is an ideal accompaniment for meat dishes and cheese. The maker suggests keeping for about 5-8 years.
The appellation Côtes du Rhône refers to basic red, white or rosé wines of the Rhône region which stretches for about 200 km. Producing hundreds of millions of bottles of wine from over 20 different grape types, this is one of the largest single appellation regions in the world. Northern Côtes du Rhône wines use Syrah as the dominant red grape. In the southern part of the appellation, many red grapes are used including Grenache, Syrah, Carignane, Mourvèdre and Cinsault to name a few. This particular red is made from the first four of these grapes and spends 10 months in underground cement vats before being bottled. With aromas of berries and red fruits, at 13% alcohol it is a full-bodied wine with a round and spicy finish. Wonderful with white and red meat roasts and grills and, of course, cheese.
Older wine drinkers may remember the Ventoux appellation as Côtes du Ventoux AOC until this was changed about 12 years ago. Located in the southeastern part of the Rhône region the communes of the Vaucluse département along the slopes of the Ventoux and Vaucluse mountains. This red wine is made in much the same manner as the Côtes du Rhône above and reposes for 10 months or so in underground cement containers before bottling. In this case, the grapes are Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault. Red wine from this area is said to be characterised by aromas of black fruit, spice, and pepper. This is a full-bodied red, powerful on the palate with a long finish. Ideal with red or white meat dishes, roasts, grills and stews.
The charming town of Vacqueyras situated on the banks of the River Ouvèze gives its name to the wine of this appellation. Primarily known for red wine, some white and rosé wines are also produced in the area. It has sometimes been called the little brother of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. When well made, it may be not just good wine but excellent value. Made from 70% and 25% respectively of the heavyweight grapes of Grenache and Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre is added for good measure. The wine spends about 6 months in oak barrels. Dark red in appearance there are aromas of fruits and red berries. It is full-bodied but well-structured and supple with soft tannins leading to a very pleasing finish. Ideal with poultry, red meat and stews and it will last for 8-10 years.
Château Lestours Clocher is an Appellation Vacqueras Protégée red wine. It is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault with 4 more uncommonly found grapes: Vacarese, Terret Noir, Counoise and the rare Muscardin grape also used in the making of wine in nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Fermented in wood and then matured in barriques it is a dark-coloured, bold and powerful wine. With aromas of berries and notes of black fruit on the palate it is a wine which will accompany beef, lamb, and venison as well as grilled poultry.
A characteristic of the land in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape grape-growing areas is the layer of quartzite stones called galets which retain daytime heat and release it at night. The region traditionally permitted thirteen grape varieties, but the 2009 regulations increased this to eighteen. Both red and white varieties are allowed to make red Châteauneuf-du-Pape but this particular one is made from a blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault. Dense and dark in colour, with subtle aroma of berries and black cherries, the wine is full-bodied, supple, generous and rich in flavour with a long finish. Ideal with beef, lamb, venison, game and poultry.
The beautiful and historic little village of Cairanne has been magnificently restored having fallen into serious disrepair in the middle of the twentieth century. The old ramparts date from the 12th century when the Knights Templar inhabited the town. In 1937, wines produced in the area acquired the Côtes du Rhône appellation of origin and, since 2016, its quality wines have been permitted to be labelled Cairanne similar to other highly reputable nearby wine villages such as Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This particular wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre. It has a deep garnet colour and there are aromas of fruit and spice. With a full body it has a smooth and peppery finish. The tannins suggest a good potential for aging and it could be kept up to ten years. Really excellent value and wonderful with red meat, stews, poultry and game and a variety of cheeses.
This is definitely one of our favourites. This wine was made in memory of the year 1717, the year in which landlord Count François de Castellanne, de Lauris, de Vacqueyras granted a vineyard to an ancestor of the Arnoux family. The images on the front page of our website include the original parchment for this grant shown to us by Jean-François when we visited him last summer. Made from grapes harvested from vines over 50 years of age, with some 100 years old, fermentation is carried out in wooden vats followed by aging in oak for between 18 and 37 months depending on the vintage. Not surprisingly, with such old vines, the yields are low at only 25 hectolitres per hectare. By comparison, the permitted yield for a regular appellation Côtes du Rhône red would be at least twice that. 1717 has a deep garnet colour, being made from 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre. Rich fruit aromas of raspberries and black cherries are found on the nose. On the palate, the wine is big, full-bodied and powerful with a long and intense finish and silky tannins well befitting M. Arnoux’s proud description of this wine as a hymn to the pleasure of the senses! It will keep 10-15 years and will accompany any rich red meat dishes including beef, lamb and poultry.
The Ventoux area is dominated by the Ventoux, Vaucluse and Luberon mountain ranges in the Rhône wine region. It is said that wine has been produced in this part of France since the time of Christ. In the Ventoux appellation the making of red, white and rose wines is permitted. Usually these wines are made from blends of several grapes in contrast to Burgundy where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are most commonly used alone. Bourboulenc, Clairette Blanche, Roussane, Grenache Blanc and other grapes are used for white wines and there should be a minimum alcohol content of 11%. Most Ventoux wines are probably best drunk young. This particular Ventoux white is made from 60% Grenache Blanc, 30% Ugni Blanc and 10% Clairette. The must is fermented at a low temperature to preserve the aromatic qualities of the wine which is then aged on the lees for 3 months. With citrus aromas, it is full, round and smooth on the palate with a delightful finish. Will accompany chicken, turkey, fish and cheese admirably.
Rosé wine consumption is rising rapidly and quality is the reason: rosé wines now represent 30% of total still wine consumption, in contrast with 16% about 20 years ago. In Ireland, rosés are now about 6% of the still wine market having doubled since about 2015. This Côtes du Rhône rosé is made from the same grapes as red wine: Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan. A beautiful pink colour leads to aromas of strawberry, raspberry and roses while on the palate the clean, crisp and powerful body has great appeal especially when chilled. Lovely to drink in the summer and to serve alone or with a wide variety of foods including olives, finger food and light meats.
Another rosé from Arnoux & Fils and the Vieux Clocher winery. The Côtes du Rhône rosé above is made from grapes harvested between Vienne and Avignon, a stretch of almost 200 kilometers along the Rhône valley with the vines growing in various terrains. This Ventoux wine, on the other hand, is made from grapes growing in a much more localised area on the slopes of Mont Ventoux. As well as being further south, this is one of the highest mountains in Provence. Although the cépage, or grape blend of Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault, is the same for both, the wines are very different. This may be an effect of terroir, or how the local climate, soil and terrain affect both wines. As well as latitude and altitude, the Ventoux vineyards of limestone, clay and scree differ from the many different soil types to be found in the Côtes du Rhône appellation. A wonderful pink colour, the aromas are fruity but also more floral. On the palate, the wine is full and well-balanced and is crisp and clean with a long finish. Drink chilled at 10-12 degrees. Lovely as a summer drink or as an aperitif. Or serve with a wide variety of foods including meats hot or cold, grills and cheeses.
Another rosé….really?! Lestours Clocher is from the Vacqueyras appellation and is quite different to the others above as can be seen at a glance. The recent demand for rosé, especially among younger wine drinkers, has been met by increased production particularly in the south of France. Rosé wine is, generally, made from red grapes but differs from red wine in several ways. The time spent in contact with the grape-skins after pressing is very short compared to red grapes. The result is a range of nuanced pink colours, the darkness of which reflect the time the extracted juice has spent on the skins. A good rosé is fresh and fragrant with fruity and floral aromatic qualities where raspberry, strawberry, cherry and lychee may blend with roses and wild flowers. Making a good rosé is a challenge from grape selection and pressing to precise control of fermentation temperature and choice of specific yeasts to enhance certain aromatic qualities. This particular rosé is made of 70% Cinsault and 30% Grenache. From old vines in select parts of the vineyards it spend a prolonged time in wood, and has many of the tasting features just mentioned. A very nice rosé indeed. Wonderful for the summer and great with picnics. Very versatile and can be served with cold meats, salads, sushi, fish, pasta and, of course, cheese.