adventures in craft beer and real food

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

WBW 19: When in Rhone...

Insert double-take.

You: I thought this was supposed to be a food and beer blog. What's with the wine?
Me: I could make something up. Like... No matter how much I prefer beer to wine, wine is an essential part of food experience and artisinal food culture. Or... I think you might be interested. But the bottom line is that I know very little about wine. If I'm serious about cooking, I need to change that. Perhaps Wine Blogging Wednesdays will help me develop as an oenophile. Consider it a sub-plot.

Jathan at Winexpression was looking for Rhone blends.

I picked up a bottle of 2002 Clos du Caillou Côtes du Rhône. I was interested in it because I heard that it was good. From reading things, such as the Wine Bible, I knew that the wine would be untamed with spicy, juicy qualities. What I didn't expect was how interesting the wine would be.

The nose was ostensibly disappointing. At first, it seemed to be of oak from top to bottom. As I put my nose further into the glass, however, I picked up raspberry, alcohol, and a rhubarb-like tartness. At 14% alcohol, I was actually surprised that ethanol wasn't more prominent in the aroma. The taste was both complex and delicious. The flavor leads in with a strong hand of oak that filled my mouth. After a few seconds, a burst of pleasant tannins took over and imparted a powerful leathery flavor. Finally, there was a rich bouquet of berries. Bits of raspberry, cranberry, and strawberry all lingered on my tongue for minutes. Echoes of oak and vanilla ended the taste experience. The wine left my mouth feeling slightly dry. True to form, it was just slightly velvety.

The estate was under the leadership of Jean-Denis Vacheron when this wine was produced, who holds an eight hectare estate just north of Avignon. He died an untimely death the year this wine was elaborated, and had his work continued by his wife Sylvie Pouizen and the talented Bruno Gaspard.

In Courthézon, the grapes grow in a squarely mediterranean climate. Despite 2002 being an off year for southern Rhone wines (think raining and flooding), I think it added a Jekyll-and-Hyde character to the wine that makes it more interesting. It's not sunny, but it certainly doesn't have the mulgrims either.

The two principle constituents of the wine seem to be grenache and syrah. I surmise that the fruitiness and warmth come from the grenache while syrah contributes hints of spice. I'm not familiar enough with Rhone varietals to further analyze the blending.

I imagine that this wine would be a good partner with many red meats. A steak cooked rare or medium rare with pepper on it, would be fantastic for example. I don't know how it would turn out, but I think it would be interesting to try this wine with tuna sushi.

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LDub said...

Hmmm...I shall have to remember this wine when I go grocery shopping...since I live next to the Rhone, Cotes du Rhone wines tend to be rather inexpensive here...and I do like a good Syrah...hmm...

LDub said...

Question (from my landlady): did you catch the name of the town/village that the wine was from (it apparently should have been marked somewhere on the lable)?

Nicholas said...

Courthézon, Vaucluse. Not too far from you, actually.

In response to your first post, though, I'm obliged to remind you that if you're living in France, you've undoubtedly experienced more wine in the last year than I have in the last 24. Consequently, my reviews of this or that wine may not mean anything.

Côtes du Rhône tend to be cheap here, too. I bought the bottle for $10 in Madison, Wisconsin. I can only imagine what it would go for in France...

LDub said...

Ha! Courthezon is practically a neighboring town to me! That's funny!

xenobiologista said...

I'm all over the tuna sushi =)