Wine of The Month – January 2022 – VRAC Côtes du Rhône 2019
It’s a new year and that means one thing in the retail trade…inventory. While taking our inventory we noticed something, we have a surplus of wines from the Côtes du Rhône. This wasn’t by design; it was an unconscious decision. We ended up with a lot of choices from the Côtes du Rhône region because, they are good, versatile and offer great value for your dollar. What is it about the Côtes du Rhône that makes it this way? Experience.
They’ve been growing grapes and making wine there since the 4th Century BC. The summers are long and warm while the winters are mild; rainfall is sufficient but not too much and the famous ‘Mistral’ wind is a major player in keeping molds, mildews, and pests in check. Another unique characteristic of this region are the nuances of ‘garrigue’ – the wild resinous herbs that cover the landscape. Adding to all this is the versatility winemakers have in choosing grape varieties. While the predominate grape in the Côtes du Rhône is the Grenache, virtually all the wines are red blends that feature Grenache and/or Syrah as well as 21 other allowed varieties. Variety, value, you find it all in the VRAC Côtes du Rhône Red 2019. ‘VRAC’, or ‘en vrac’ translates to ‘bring your own bottle’. In many French villages, locals will bring bottles or jugs to a nearby winery and fill them up with an easy drinking wine for their home. Made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre fruit the VRAC Côtes du Rhône is 90% de-stemmed, with the remaining left as whole clusters. Fermentation occurs in open concrete and stainless-steel vats. After pressing, the wine is aged in steel tanks. This is new school winemaking, (no wood) and every attempt is made to capture the freshness of fruit while leaving room for the stony minerality and the ‘garrigue’ to show through. The result is a delicious, fresh wine that delivers a true sense of place. Dry, medium-bodied, as comfortable with roast chicken as it is with a roast beef.