Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre: these are undoubtedly three of the finest red wine grapes of southern France, and perhaps of the entire Mediterranean basin. The unrivaled soulfulness of the elixirs they produce has earned them a loyal following worldwide, and their complementary nature has led to growers planting them alongside one another with such regularity that any combination of the three is often grouped under the wildly variable umbrella term Rhône blends. While they are commonly blended in roughly equal proportions, one must not forget that each has a spiritual home in France: a terroir that brings out its very best attributes, yielding wines that are not just delicious but truly noble. Today, we honor these three terroirs and the transcendent bottles for which they are responsible.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape permits up to eighteen cépages in its reds, but Grenache is indisputably king. From a stark, inhospitable landscape, it delivers a most regal cocktail of sunshine, garrigue, mistral, and polished stone. While typically blended with smaller proportions of other “Rhône grapes,” the rich complexity and assertive character of this red makes it much more than a simple Rhône blend. Syrah can be found all over southern France, but at its northern limit, on the near-vertical slopes of Côte-Rôtie, something magical happens. Along the terraced banks of the Rhône, the grape expresses a mystical medley of smoke, violets, pepper, and other exotic aromatics that other Syrahs have tried tirelessly to replicate—always in vain. Back down south, minutes from the Mediterranean, Mourvèdre stars in the chewy, mouth-filling reds of Bandol. Unapologetically wild, it displays grit and tenacity with warm flavors of wild blackberries, herbs, and freshly slain game.
More than simply “Rhône grapes,” Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre are capable of true greatness; with this three-pack, taste the heights each can reach on its home terroir.
A good doctor prescribed the wine of Nuits-Saint-Georges to the Sun King, Louis XIV, when he suffered an unknown maladie. When the king’s health was restored the tasty remedy enjoyed a vogue at court. Lord, send me a doctor like that!
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