Red, Rhone Blends - Red, WINE

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Another regional style that has taken on a global application, the term "Rhône Blend" typically refers to wines made predominantly from the major, legally permitted varietals of the southern Rhône Valley in southeast France. Grenache is the primary grape varietal in most of these blends, and a wine will take on different characteristics depending on its proportional composition and its place of origin. As a blending component, Grenache is valued for the added body and fruitiness that it brings without added tannins. As a varietal, the grape's naturally low concentration of phenolics contribute to its pale color and lack of extract, but viticultural practices and low yields can increase the concentrations of phenolic compounds. Grenache-based wines tend to be made for early consumption with its propensity for oxidation make it a poor candidate for long-term aging. However, producers who use low yields grown on poor soils can produce dense, concentrated wines that can benefit from cellaring. Grenache-based wines can develop complex and intense notes of blackcurrants, black cherries, black olives, coffee, gingerbread, honey, leather, black pepper, tar, spices, and roasted nuts. When yields are increased, more overtly earthy and herbal notes emerge that tend to quickly fade on the palate.

Red wines from the southern Rhône can contain varying amounts of Cinsault, Counoise, Syrah, Mourvédre, and Carignan, but are almost always based on Grenache Noir. The characteristic of French Grenache-based wines depends largely on the selection of its blending partners and can range from the spicy richness associated with Châteauneuf-du-Pape to the chewy fruitiness associated with basic Côtes du Rhône Villages. Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Rasteau are other southern Rhône AOCs that produce their own distinctly characteristic Grenache-based wines. Generally, these wines are built for immediate consumption or mid-term aging, but the top examples, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, can endure extended cellaring. Grenache is widely grown throught Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence, as well, albeit of generally lesser quality than in the Rhône Valley itself. Many sub-AOCs of Languedoc-Roussillon will use Grenache as a secondary component in blends featuring predominantly Carignan, Syrah, or Cinsault. But perhaps the most highly prized, non-Grenache-based Rhône blends in France hail from Bandol in Provence, where the hearty, meaty Mourvédre grape forms the basis of the wines. Elsewhere in Provence, Grenache is the main staple in the region's widely beloved, fruity rosé wines.

Spain, where the grape is known as Garnacha, has the largest concentration of Grenache vines in the world, and while the grape is often blended with local varietals across the country, the tiny, hilltop region of Priorat is considered the apex of Spanish Grenache-based wine production. Low yields, warm weather, and an increasing commitment to quality result in an iteration that, when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and/or Carignan, can and must age for a number years to be fully enjoyable. These are wines of substantial power and body, with driving tannins, explosive fruit, and intensely earthy characteristics. Grenache is much less common in Italy, and in fact, it really only grows as Cannonau on the island of Sardigna, where it yields dark, brooding, powerfully tannic wines of supremely rustic character.

Grenache-based blends appear all over the New World, as well, but two countries in particular seem to have captured the formula to greater distinction than the rest. The grape appeared in Australia as early as 1832, and for a time it was the country's most widely planted varietal. Plantings in McLaren Vale, Barossa valley, and Clare Valley boomed, but by the mid-20th century it was overtaken by both Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, the past decade has seen a resurgence of the "GSM" blends with artisanal producers making the most of some seriously old vineyards. Varietal Grenache from the McLaren Vale is characterized by luscious richness and spicy notes while Barossa Valley Grenache is characterized by jammy, intense fruitiness. The United States has had its own surge of popularity in Grenache-based wines, beginning with the Rhône Rangers, a consortium of Central Coast growers in California who imported new cuttings from the Rhône valley for planting in the cooler Central Coast regions for use in the production of premium varietal Grenache and Rhône style blends. The wines of Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County are cool climate examples with bright red fruits and suave, gentle textures, while the warmer Paso Robles regions produces Grenache- and Syrah-based wines on par with Priorat for their ripeness, power, and intensity.

There are few, if any varietals, the world over that can display the kind of versatility and variance of style as Grenache, which goes a long way to explaining its popularity with growers and consumers alike. While it seldom reaches the same heights as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, it is nonetheless an equally important cornerstone in the world of wine.

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95 points Jeb Dunnuck: The 2015 Gigondas Cuvee Louisiane comes from a site located just beside the domaine, which is a mix of clay and sandy soils. Aged all in foudre, it boasts terrific notes of framboise, spring flowers, black raspberries and orange blossom (which I normally find more in the Les… ...

JD 95
WA 95
V 92-94
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Saint-Damien Gigondas La Louisiane 2015  (#332305)

Rhone Blends - Red from Gigondas, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
JD 95
WA 95
V 92-94

96 points James Suckling: Astounding purity and depth. This wine emanates old vine concentration with deep raspberry and red plums, spicy complexity and a sappy, bracken-like edge. Powerful and elegant tannins, reminiscent of great Barolo! Drink from 2023. (8/14/17) ...

JS 96
V 94-96
WA 93
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Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015  (#331031)

Rhone Blends - Red from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 7 available
JS 96
V 94-96
WA 93

94 points Jeb Dunnuck: Coming from an old vine selection and a smaller production release for the US market, the 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes tastes like the classic cuvée, only on steroids. Kirsch, loads of black and blue fruits, flowers and lavender notes all emerge from this full… ...

JD 94
WA 94
WS 93
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Clos Saint-Jean Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2015  (#330506)

Rhone Blends - Red from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
JD 94
WA 94
WS 93

93 points Jeb Dunnuck: The 2015 Gigondas Vieilles Vignes offers the most finesse and elegance of the three cuvees, and is slightly less exotic, yet more refined and pretty. Offering lots of strawberry and framboise fruits, loads of cedary spice, full-bodied richness and building, polished tannin,… ...

JD 93
V 91-93
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Saint-Damien Gigondas Vieilles Vignes 2015  (#332306)

Rhone Blends - Red from Gigondas, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 8 available

96 points Jeb Dunnuck (Wine Advocate): ...another gorgeous wine from this estate that offers incredible richness while never seeming heavy, cumbersome or over-the-top. A blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and the rest Muscardin, Vaccarese and Cinsault, it exhibits thrilling cassis, black raspberry,… ...

WA 96
WS 96
V 94
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Clos Saint-Jean Chateauneuf-du-Pape la Combe des Fous 2012  (#320668)

Rhone Blends - Red from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available

97 points Wine Advocate: At the top end of Chapoutier's Southern Rhône hierarchy are the two sélections parcellaires from Châteauneuf du Pape. I had a slight preference for the 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape Croix de Bois, which comes from the Bédarrides (eastern) side of the appellation, a site with… ...

WA 97
JD 96
V 93-95
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Chapoutier Chateauneuf-du-Pape Croix de Bois 2015  (#331679)

Rhone Blends - Red from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 10 available
WA 97
JD 96
V 93-95
PRE-ARRIVAL

92-94 points Josh Raynolds (Vinous): Dark ruby. Potent mineral- and smoke-accented cherry, boysenberry and garrigue scents pick up a sexy incense nuance as the wine opens up. Sweet, seamless and penetrating on the palate, offering intense red and blue fruit, spicecake and lavender pastille flavors… ...

V 92-94
WA 91-93
JD 91-93
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Domaine du Cayron Gigondas 2015  (#332506)

Rhone Blends - Red from Gigondas, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 5 available
V 92-94
WA 91-93
JD 91-93
$29.95
$46.00
Save $16.05 (35%)46.00
Save $16.05 (35%)

50% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache, 26% Cinsault, 4% Syrah. La Migoua is made up of heterogeneous clay that varies in color between red, ochre, and blue. At 270 meters, it sits at the highest altitude of all the vineyards. The parcel s complex sedimentation is largely due to the subduction of a tectonic… ...

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Tempier Bandol La Migoua 2015  (#332438)

Rhone Blends - Red from Bandol, Provence, France

1.5L Magnum | In stock, 3 available

95-97 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: No surprise, the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape takes the quality of the Coudoulet and ratchets it up a notch (or two!). I tasted the preliminary blend from foudre and was blown away by its potential. At 35% Mourvèdre, 25% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Counoise, 5%… ...

WA 95-97
JD 94-97
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Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2016  (#331178)

Rhone Blends - Red from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 8 available
WA 95-97
JD 94-97
PRE-ARRIVAL

93-95 points Josh Raynolds (Vinous): (bottled with 14.3% alcohol and a pH of 3.7): Deep ruby. Highly perfumed scents of candied dark berries, cola and lavender oil develop a suave, smoky Indian spice nuance. Fleshy, expansive red and dark berry and floral pastille flavors display an impressive blend… ...

V 93-95
WS 93
WA 93
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Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2014  (#329293)

Rhone Blends - Red from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 5 available
V 93-95
WS 93
WA 93
$74.95
$110.00
Save $35.05 (32%)110.00
Save $35.05 (32%)

91 points Josh Raynolds (Vinous): [$25 list] Lurid ruby. Ripe cherries and red berry liqueur on the deeply perfumed, spice-tinged nose. Shows impressive power and breadth on the palate, offering rich black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors complicated by hints of lavender and peppery spices. The… ...

V 91
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Chave/J.L. Selection Cotes-du-Rhone Mon Coeur 2016  (#332523)

Rhone Blends - Red from Côtes du Rhône, Southern Rhône, Rhône, France

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$17.95
$25.00
Save $7.05 (28%)25.00
Save $7.05 (28%)

90 points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): ...Cariñena, Garnacha and Syrah from slate soils that fermented separately with indigenous yeasts and with 20% of the volume being raised in oak barrels for some eight or nine months. I noticed the Syrah here, combined with classical Gratallops sweet… ...

WA 90
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Celler Cecilio Black Slate Gratallops Vi de la Vila Priorat 2015  (#701866)

Rhone Blends - Red from Priorat, Spain

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
$17.95
$24.00
Save $6.05 (25%)24.00
Save $6.05 (25%)
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