Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

24 Hours of Cote du Rhone - Part 2

On Saturday morning, the chateau moved us to a master suite and once we settled into our new space, I took a brisk walk around the vineyard before chatting with the locals over a lovely pre-dinner aperitif.

Or, in reality-speak, power was restored downtown and we were able to return to our apartment.  It was a bit chilly and the fridge was a little smelly, but it felt great to be back in our place.   I also fit in a quick workout, a valiant effort to counteract my weeklong diet of pizza, french fries and halloween candy, all which had been washed down with copious amounts of wine. I then dashed back uptown for the second Cote du Rhone tasting of the weekend.

The day was extraordinarily busy in the shop.  Downtown refugees were coming in to buy presents for their host friends, tourists in town for the aborted marathon were looking to soothe their frustrations and everyone in general just seemed to want a drink to help them relax from the stressful week.  As a result, we ran through the two red tasting bottles very quickly.  Eager to capitalize on the traffic, we opened replacements bottles, which gave the opportunity to do a side-by-side tasting, a Battle of the Wines, if you will. 

The Rhone Blend Showdown

L'Ermitage 2010 (note:  due to the rapid pace at which we went through this, I wasn't able to record all the pertinent information about this wine, but will try to seek it out and update this post when I do) -  Vinified with grenache/syrah/mouvedre/carignan, this was the first blend we opened. Raspberry, ripe cherry, blueberry, green and black pepper shone through on nose.  The same notes repeated on the palate, with a bit of earth and soil making an appearance.  Like many Cote du Rhones, this was a lighter bodied red, easy to drink on its own but could definitely hold its own against lighter chicken and pasta dishes. 

Chateau D'Aiguevelle Cote Du Rhone 2010 - For the most part, it was similar to its predecessor in its aromas and initial flavor notes on the palate, but was more astringent and showed more prominent tannins.  There was something a little immature about this one and my preference fell to the L’Ermitage for a Rhone blend. 

WINNER - L'Ermitage

The Syrah Smackdown
Francois De Tournon Saint Joseph Delas 2009 - This 100% Syrah was primarily driven by pepper, earthiness and spiciness. Fruit was more of a secondary player; plum and black cherry comingled with the classic syrah qualities on the nose.  Upon the first couple sips, the pitted fruits lent a round juiciness to this wine but bell pepper, tar and tobacco fought for prominence. No doubt about it, this wine was bone dry. Factor that in with the lively tannins and a medium plus body and we were drinking big wine.  I’m interested to see how this one will age. 

Domaine des Grands Chemins Croze Hermitage Delas 2009 - Another 100% Syrah, this one showcased the same classic syrah characteristics of earth and spice.  Upon first reveal, many of its qualities echoed the St Joseph, but after a couple of sips, it felt more astringent and the tannins didn’t feel as well integrated as the other.  Still a big wine, it may be more enjoyable with a meal, but I think the St. Joseph took the medal in this match.

WINNER:  Francois De Tournon Saint Joseph Delas 2009

We also poured one white that day:
Domaine La Fond Roc-Epine Lirac 2010
This grenache blanc, marsanne and viognier blend was golden apple, pear, and honeycomb on the nose. First sips revealed the same orchard fruits balanced with citrus; however, the honey was nonexistent on palate and this medium-bodied wine finished very dry. I love when a wine surprises me and what I detect in aromas belies what I taste.

Eventually the event, and thus, the Cote du Rhone vacation, was over.  However, it was a wonderful feeling to be able to return home, not only physically but with the psychological reassurance that life could start getting back to normal.