LOUIS BERNARD COTES du RHONE 2017

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Nestled in France is a region where winemaking is more than an occupation. It is an art. Much the same as creating a sculpture or painting a portrait or landscape, making a good wine takes dedication and commitment, as well as a love and respect for the process and the history behind it.

The vineyards of the Rhone Valley are some of the oldest in France and follow the path of the Rhone River. Vines have been cultivated there for centuries, but it was in the fourteenth century that the region really hit its stride with the arrival of the Popes. For most of the first half of the century the center of the Church was located here due to the influence of the French King Philip IV, or “Philip the Fair.” Times being what they were, church officials were accustomed to certain luxuries and wine was certainly among them. But the Papacy did eventually find its way back to Rome and it was not until 1937 with the creation of the Cotes-du-Rhone A.O.C. by Baron Le Roy, that the vineyards were finally recognized for the richness of the soils and the special characteristics of the native grapes.

Wines produced in the north and south of the region are distinctive and excellent, enjoying a reputation the world over. While the north is known for the Syrah for red wines and Marsanne for the whites, the main grape in the south is Grenache which is blended with other varieties to produce wines that are perfectly balanced. Here, the Mediterranean climate bathes the vines in just enough sunlight, the perfect amount of rain and consistent temperatures, while the soil, rich in minerals, is a mixture of clay-limestone, pebbles and sand. This part of the Rhone Valley is the home, the birthplace of Cotes du Rhone. In 1729 a royal edict required that each cask produced in the region be branded “C.D.R.” or Cotes du Rhone, and it was here in 1976 that Louis Bernard established the partnerships with an unconventional and inventive approach.

The Cotes du Rhone designation allows winemakers in the region to choose from about 21 different varieties of grapes to blend into their final product. Some of the partnerships will add their names to the label which assures an even higher quality, kind of like an artist attaching his name to a painting. There are also two other designations of the wine where the words “Villages” or “Cru” is added to the label with the former having lower yields but higher alcohol content, and the latter being of the highest quality level.

As for the characteristics of this particular blend, it is a bit on the lighter side. Deep red in color without the purplish hues sometimes seen in red wines. After decanting for almost two hours, there is an aroma of red cherries and plum. On the palate it is very well balanced with a full, pleasing taste that lingers just long enough. Be assured that the second sip is just as good, and even compliments the first as the flavor builds to a light crescendo of grape and dark fruits. This is a very versatile wine. As we approach the warmer months I think that too many thoughts move to white wines because of a lighter taste and look. But here is a red that can also fill that bill nicely. Light enough for an aperitif. Light enough to accompany poultry or lighter cheeses. But with enough of an influence of blackberry and plum, enough body and taste to pair with stewed or grilled red meats. . We found this paired very well with a grilled rack of lamb. The tenderness of the meat with the succulent flavor of lightly seasoned lamb was a wonderful combination. Added to that was a lemon roasted broccoli and the trio went together perfectly.

This wine is drinking well now and will be for the next 3-5 years. It is made to be aged. We found it to be a very nice wine, as I said, versatile and could become a go-to wine for gatherings and holidays.

Alcohol – 14%
Price – about $14

If you are familiar with this wine or something similar, I would welcome your thoughts.

Published by JC home

Retired and loving life in North Carolina. Writing was always an interest, so I decided to give this a try. Former teacher, Wall Street Brokerage Associate and Postmaster for USPS.

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