The Southern Rhône boasts over 175,000 acres under vine, yielding an annual production of more than thirty million cases of wine per year. While most of this represents everyday sippers for casual enjoyment, commonly sold under the simple Côtes-du-Rhône AOC, the region is also home to nine cru villages whose wines are on another level, offering additional complexity and age-worthiness that put forth the intricacies of each terroir. Removed from the expansive flatlands that produce much of the generic Côtes-du-Rhône, the crus show off the stony plateaus and dramatic terraced sites whose wines express a true sense of place. While Grenache is king in these parts, an array of red and white grapes are permitted, allowing each producer to paint a unique picture from the complex palette of varieties that thrive under the meridional sun. This sampler explores six of the Southern Rhône’s great crus. The common elements are the generous Mediterranean climate, the howling mistral, and garrigue—aromatic scrubland that invades every inch of virgin soil, whose balmy fragrances fill the air on a hot day and seem to saturate the region’s wines. You’ll see as you sip these wines, in all three colors: they could come from nowhere else.
Tour of the Southern Rhône Crus Sampler 2016 Tavel Rosé • Trinquevedel $18.95 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc “Clos la Roquète” • Domaine la Roquète $49 2015 Beaumes-de-Venise Rouge • Domaine de Durban $19 2014 Lirac “Le Classique” • Domaine du Joncier $25 2014 Vacqueyras Rouge “Cuvée Doucinello” • Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux $34 2015 Gigondas “Les Racines” • Domaine Les Pallières $40
Normally $185.95 SPECIAL SAMPLER PRICE $158.00 (a 15% discount)
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch