2016 Rhone Wines

The most recent issue of The Wine Spectator featured a  review of the 2016 vintage. Rhone wines are some of the most affordable French wines and generally portray a heartiness and fullness of flavor. The Rhone Valley is in the Southeast part of France abutting the Rhone River. Numerous grapes are grown, both white and red, but Grenache and Syrah dominate.

The Wine Spectator gave the vintage a 99 rating, the best in ten years. To verify this, I decided to try a few from 2016. I found three under $15 at ABC Fine Wine. The first is a 2016 Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve. Perrin is the most respected producer in the Rhone Valley and is  noted for it’s higher end wine, Chateau Beaucastel. The Famille Perrin started somewhat dry and tannic, but soon developed a roundness and structure that was very enjoyable. It had good body and pleasant finish. Great wine for the price. My wife and I enjoyed it with pork tenderloin. Great match.

Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone from M. Chapoutier. Along with Perrin, Chapoutier is one of the top producers in the Rhone Valley. This wine was very deep at onset and quite tannic and astringent. At 14% alcohol, it was a big wine. As dinner progressed, it became more enjoyable with good complexity and body. It was a bit too strong for my wife.

 

Belleruche

Les Carteresses Cotes-du-Rhone  -The previous two wines did not list their grape content but this states clearly it is  made from 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Carignan, and 10% Mouvedre.  Carignan is the most popular red blending grape in France and allows the winemaker to keep the price low. This was not produced by a dominant winery but more likely a custom bottler. Since it was imported by Grantham Distributing (ABC) this is probably their arrangement.

This was not as rich as the previous wines, but from the outset was very smooth and flavorful. Very approachable and balanced with medium body. My wife thought it light but I believe it was a good representative of Cotes-du-Rhone.

Enjoyed it with lamb burger, stuffed mushrooms, winter squash and zucchini.

Les Carteresses

Wine in a can

Wine in a can? OH my!Wine in can

In its 5,000 year history, wine has only had a few storage vessels. Clay amphoras were the first, but the wine spoiled easily and traveled poorly. Goat bladders were portable but did little for the maturation. When glass bottles came into being, wine found a perfect match. Bottles with cork stoppers allowed for aging which gave wine complexity. Cork allows very gradual exposure to air which makes wine less tannic. As winemaking became more sophisticated, complexity and balance became available at lower cost in boxed wine. Consumers could store one in the fridge and have a glass anytime. Now with the appropriate technology, wine in cans is available. Unlike beer, wine in cans has no sell by date so it’s important that the wine does not react with the metal lining.

Convenience is the key word here. Packaged like beer or soda cans, wine cans are extremely portable and perfect for the beach cooler, boat, or individual serving when opening a bottle is too much. They come in single 375 ml. (half bottle) or 4 packs of 187 ml. (full bottle).

It seems they also indicate a sea change in consumer buying patterns. According to Mark Montelbano, Wine Consultant at ABC Fine Wine Venice, the dominant wine purchases of the past were 3 liters of jug wines, whose buyers have significantly declined. They are being replaced with millenials who seek modern packaging and distinct flavors. Cans fit the bill. A good indication of current retail commitment is the shelf space and precious cooler space dedicated to the cans.

I purchased a couple of cans there and here are my tasting results.

Dark Horse Pinot Grigio 2017 ($4.99 375 ml.) Unexpectedly dry, light, thin, with acidic finish.

Better with food but a very simple wine. Would benefit from sweetness.

The Original House Wine Pinot Noir ($5.99 375 ml.) Full body, good balance, lingering aftertaste, good value. Imported from Chile, packed in Walla Walla Washington.

Also tasted at Laurel Wines and More.

Dear Mom Rose’ (Approx. $14.00 4 pk. 187 ml.) Light, slightly sweet, good color and balance, pleasant wine. Produced in Oregon with no vintage.

Dear Mom Oregon Red Blend (Approx. $14.00 4 pk. 187 ml.) Full bodied, good color and balance. No vintage.

My concern with wine in cans is the prospect of sudden inebriation since they are so similar to beer and soft drink containers. It has been documented that an individual drank two 375 ml. cans in an hour which is not a lot for beer, but corresponds to an entire bottle of wine. Since the alcohol in wine is about 12% and beer is 5%, the person became quite drunk quite quickly. To avoid this, pour wine into a glass and drink from the glass rather than the can.

I believe these wines may have a place but at this point it’s primarily convenience. With no vintage it’s hard to know how long these wines will last and when they will drink at their peak (if there is one).

 

Wine in a can? OH my!Wine in can

 

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