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Value of the Month

A Humble Côtes Du Rhône

by Dustin Soiseth


In the break room at our Berkeley shop, a “wall of fame” features the empty bottles of some of the most memorable wines tasted there over the years. That wall contains some legendary names—Romanée-Conti, Verset, Quintarelli, Vieux Télégraphe, de Montille—and the vintages represented reach back decades. There is also a bottle of 1985 Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône. I wondered why, so I asked my colleague Michael Butler. It turns out that a customer brought it in in 1995, and when Kermit and the staff pulled the cork, they found, in Michael’s words, an elegant red with hints of réglisse, herbs, and fading black cherry. That humble Côtes du Rhône, which sold for $5.75 ($14.81, adjusted for inflation), had aged incredibly well.
    The grapes for our Côtes du Rhône are sourced from the commune of Châteauneuf-de-Gadagne, whose vineyards are chock-full of galets roulés similar to those found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is vinified by Jean-François Pasturel at Terres d’Avignon, a co-op founded in 1929. Vinification takes place in cement vats with natural yeasts only, and the wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine is Grenache-based, but the exact blend varies each year. The current vintage has a big dollop of Syrah along with Mourvèdre, Carignan, Marselan, and Cinsault. The blending process can be arduous, with individual lots tasted and sample blends created again and again until balance is achieved.
   Not all inexpensive wines have to be consumed in their youth, just as not all expensive wines benefit from aging. The fundamentals that often result in age-worthy bottles—quality terroir, sound winemaking, balance, structure—are not the exclusive province of the well-heeled. Our Côtes du Rhône is built on these fundamentals, and while it will certainly give immense joy as an everyday drinker, don’t forgo the opportunity to lay a few bottles aside for the future. They may end up on your “wall of fame,” too.

2021 Côtes du Rhône Rouge

Selected by Kermit Lynch

France |  Southern Rhône

Discount Eligible $14.95

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