I returned to whole foods store in High Street Kensington to look for this week's wine. There was the usual debate with me and my mind to decide which wine to choose. The selected wines came from Spain, Greece, France and USA, it finally came down to a wine from the Rhone valley, France.
The reason why I choose this one was simply because of the wine makers, Tardieu-Laurent http://www.tardieu-laurent.fr/
This is a big house with many vineyards all over the Rhone valley, with great attention to detail. They are negociants but with good structured wines, carrying a personality and identity and above all many of their wines are at very affordable prices. This family has true Rhone DNA, for generations the families have been making wines.
Many of us when thinking French wines, we go Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne at first but Rhone is a beast of strength and stars not to be neglected. The Tardieu-Laurent enterprise is one good example of what the region has to offer.
Their range varies from Bandol in Provence to Rhone Meridional to Rhone Septentrional. They produce more reds than whites but Rhone holds a firmer hand in red wine making even so the lights of Condrieu, Hermitage, Crozes Hermitage, Saint Joseph, white wines are surely to be tested and enjoyed.
The Rhone valley is among France's oldest vineyards, traces from Greek and Romans times are apparent all throughout the region, even Papal stay has been marked and still is known today as Chateuneuf-du-Pape. Its star player is of course the Syrah (Shiraz) grape, with its strength, power, flavor, depth, seduction, yes we often might not think how amazing Rhone valley wines are but for those who have not really stuck their lips (so to speak) into a Rhone wine.... what are you waiting for.
Also Rhone Valley is the only region in France by law which is allowed to blend a tiny percentage of white grape with their red, Cote-Rotie the main actor in this procedure.
Rhone's AOC are
1.Cote-Rotie AOC (one of the most amazing reds one will ever taste but pricey)
2.Condrieu AOC (only white but if you look for something outside the normal habit circle please try)
3.Chateau-Grillet AOC (one of the most unknown appellations of Rhone only white wines)
4.Saint Joseph AOC (mostly reds produced and wines from good quality and affordable prices)
5.Hermitage AOC ( reds mostly but some good whites as well)
6.Crozes-Hermitage ( reds mainly and white to a smaller extent)
7.Cornas AOC ( just reds only)
8.Saint-Peray AOC (lesser known but only sparkling and white wines)
1.Cote de Vivarais AOC ( predominately reds)
2.Cote du Rhone AOC ( predominately reds)
3.Cotes du Rhone Villages AOC (predominately reds)
4.Cotes de Tricastin AOC (predominately reds)
5.Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC (allowed to use 19 different grape varieties, predominately reds but produces some great whgites as well)
6.Vacqueras AOC ( mainly reds)
7.Gigondas AOC (mainly reds)
8.Rasteay AOC (predominately reds)
9.Vinsobres AOC (mainly reds some good whites)
10. Lirac AOC (small appellation mainly reds)
11 Beaume de Venise AOC (just sweet wines)
12.Muscat Beaume de Venice AOC (just sweet wines)
12. Tavel AOC (mainly reds as well some rose's and whites)
The Grape varieties used in Rhone;
1990 92 ready/ 1991 92 ready/ 1992 78 ready/ 1993 58 caution might be gone/ 1994 88 caution might be gone/ 1995 90 tannic youthful/ 1996 86 ready/ 1997 90 early maturing/ 1998 90 tannic youthful/ 1999 95 tannic youthful/ 2000 87 early maturing/ 2001 89 tannic youthful/ 2002 78 caution short life/ 2003 96 tannic youthful/ 2004 85 caution short life/ 2005 89 tannic youthful/ 2006 92 early maturing/ 2007 89 early maturing/ 2008 78 irregular wines/ 2009 98 tannic yourthful/ 2010 94 tannic youthful/ 2011 88 early maturing
1990 95 ready/ 1991 65 caution might be gone/ 1992 78 caution might be gone/ 1993 85 caution might be gone/ 1994 86 caution might be gone/ 1995 90 tannic youthful/ 1996 82 caution might be gone/ 1997 82 caution might be gone/ 1998 98 early maturing/ 1999 90 early maturing/ 2000 98 early maturing/ 2001 96 tannic youthful/ 2002 58 caution short life/ 2003 90 irregular/ 2004 90 early maturing/ 2005 95 tannic youthful/ 2006 90 early maturing/ 2007 98 early maturing/ 2008 86 ready to drink/ 2009 93 early maturing/ 2010 97 tannic youthful/ 2011 88 ready
Cotes du Rhone 2009 Tardieu-Laurent Cuvee Speciale
Appellation: Cote du Rhone
Terroir: Les Garrigues
Grape variety: Grenache noir
Age of the vines: 70 years
Alcohol degree: 14%
Wine ageing: In oak by two parcels of wine, Allier and Troncais
Bottling: Without bonding and no filtering
Cork: None treated natural
Bought: Wholefoods High street Kensington
Price: £19.99 $30 €23
Visual: It appearance is a dark ruby/cherry red color, a beautiful transparency, knowing that they avoid filtering their wines talent sits definitely behind this wine, the brilliance is fair but the legs are heavy indicating a high content in alcohol. The wine appears masculine, big, young and strong.
Nose: The first smells on the nose are hints of dried spices, garrigue a typical character of Rhone wines. Little Marjoram, Rosemary and Thyme are apparent, with the influence of oak a warm smokey hint is present, then fruits are taking over, Cherries, Figs and little Blackcurrant, the high percentage of alcohol is not dominating this wine which is a good thing. As said before when alcohol overpowers your wine when smelling, it is a default of the wine maker.
Palate: The attack is dry and the tannin's are still well present, which indicates that when storing well, this wine will go for another 5 years at least. The acidity is there but could have bee a bit more, it give the wine still a good freshness and does not falls heavy on the stomach. The main characters on the palate are the fruits, Figs and Cherries in dominance. The wine feels warm and is medium long,
Conclusion: This is a wine that has all the Rhone valley characters, big, bold, deep , warm and talented. This wine is made with great attention and care, it is a wine that is destine for a dinner and drinking on its own will come as a very heavy wine. Meat is definitely on the table with this wine, and those who love their big bold wines will definitely like this one. This wine is very well made and deserves respect. For the price i paid it is absolutely good value for money,
Score: I rate this wine 17.5/20 75/100
Until next time please do drink responsibly