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Grape taste: Those fabulous Rhone blends

Posted on: August 15th, 2012 by Tom Peiffer No Comments

Looking for a theme for your next wine tasting party?  Don’t overlook the Rhone Blends.  Most wine experts agree some of the most intriguing wine tasting comparisons feature wines containing those incredible Rhone grape varietals.

And because Rhone blends are very palatable to a wide range of wine drinkers, it’s easy to organize an “RB” tasting to share the differences in these wines with a large group.  So invite everyone to check the Rhones out for themselves.  The over-the-glass conversations will take on a life of their own.

Rhone blends are also fun because they accentuate many of the taste contrasts between New World and Old World wines.  This includes the amount of alcohol and acidity as well as fruit and earthy qualities, providing guests with endless fodder for their tasting notes.  In fact, when a tasting includes wines from both New & Old World regions, the overall spectrum of flavors can be quite memorable.

Note the differences in body that varies from bone-dry to deep bittersweet, a bouquet with notes going from damp stone to flowers, and finally with finishes ranging from simple to complex.  Imagine the area where the grapes were produced and visualize being there on a hot summer day just before the harvest.  The association between taste and place is what it’s all about.

Rhone blends are created by mixing wine from Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsult, Grenache, and other grape varietals in lesser proportions.  These are now being crafted all over the world, making it a simple task to pull together an excellent variety for a tasting party.

From the Old World, wines from the Southern France’s Chateauneuf Du Pape region are good ones to pick.  This includes wine from “Château La Nerthe”. You can also take a look at Chateauneuf’s lower cost competing region, Gigondas.  These employ similar grapes to produce wines that are very close to their more costly Chateauneuf cousins.  Selections from the “Domaine Grand Romane” winery are great examples of this.

From the New World, take a look at Rhone blends from both Napa and Sonoma California.  These include Paraduxx’s “Canvasback” and Arrow Wood’s “Cote de Lune Rouge”.  There are also selections from Australia like “The Holy Trinity”, just to add to the mix.

Enjoy the variety and expect it to be met with a lot of conflicting opinions.  The complex interactions between the varietals used in the blend will hit everyone’s palate differently, so never take a position; just let the comments flow along with the vino.

Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving (60-65 degrees).

Article by Tom Peiffer, Phoenix Wine Shopping Examiner at Examiner.com

View more of Tom’s articles on Examiner.com by visiting his writer’s page.

About the Author - Tom Peiffer

Tom has been an avid wine consumer and collector for over 20 years. This pastime has taken he and his family on many visits to wine growing regions, including Arizona. During these excursions, with the accompanying tastings and lectures, it became clear that there is no "magic bullet" wine. For each wine contains its own character, strong points, and weaknesses. Sharing these experiences to help anyone purchase locally available wines is his goal.

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