I have a really hard time answering the question “what’s your favorite wine?” Not only are there just so many amazing wines out there that it’s impossible to pick just one, but my palate is constantly changing and evolving. Even if I could answer the question today, I’d probably give you a different response tomorrow. An easier and more relevant question to deal with is “what are you drinking?” The clear answer to that right now is 2007 Côtes du Rhône.
2007 was a banner year in southern France’s Rhône Valley – the ancestral home of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre – and you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy it. The entry level “Côtes du Rhône” labeled wines are primarily under $15 per bottle (upgrade to “Côtes du Rhône-Villages” if you’re feeling frisky) and are generally medium bodied with ample acid and earthy tones. These qualities make them ideal for pairing witha wide variety of meals, but especially roasted or grilled chicken with squashes or root vegetables.
The best part for you the wine drinker is that because of the supreme quality of the vintage across the board, almost any of the 2007 Côtes du Rhône reds you find at your local wine shop or grocery store will be outstanding values. The wines from widely available producers such as E. Guigal, M. Chapoutier or Perrin & Fils are always dependable, but here are some other gems to look out for:
2007 Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône – Rich blackberries pair with persistent graphite. Not an overly complex wine, but it is silky smooth and an amazing value. $9.
2007 Delas Frères Côtes du Rhône “St. Esprit” – Slightly lighter bodied than some of its brethren, it offers pure black cherry and plum flavors, subtle spice, clean minerals and gripping acidity. $10.
2007 Domaine de Piaugier Côtes du Rhône “La Grange de Piaugier” – This has a seductive nose of ripe bing cherry, while the palate is in perfect balance with fruit, minerals, and spice all weighing in equally. $10.
2007 Domaine des Escaravailles Côtes du Rhône “Les Sablieres” – A much earthier wine with some smoke on the nose. Faint raspberry is overpowered by high acid, pepper and clove on the palate. Definitely an old world wine to be paired with hearty meat dishes. $13.
2007 Montirius Côtes du Rhône – Strawberry, raspberry and a bit of gaminess on the nose suggest a wine of intriguing depth. It has a much bigger tannin structure than the rest of the lot, but still finishes velvety and long with candied cherries and wintergreen, not unlike a Luden’s cough drop. $15.
2007 Domaine Grand Nicolet Côtes du Rhône – An explosive nose of crystal clear black raspberry and boysenberry lead to succulent tastes of pure sweet cherries and red licorice on the palate. This compares favorably to wines from Priorat that are two to three times the price. $16.