The Rhone! (part one)

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2011 at 8:47 am

So, one thing that’s amazing about doing a tour like this and driving from one wine region to another is seeing how close together some of them actually are. When you include Chablis, the Cote d’Or, the Maconnais, and Beaujolais, the whole region of Burgundy is very long, and in fact extends south almost to the city of Lyon, which is just north of the Cote Rotie. If you’ve heard of the Cote Rotie, you know it’s famous for it’s steep, terraced vineyards. Still, nothing compares to seeing it in person. When you look at the absurdly steep slopes, you can’t escape the conclusion that, when they were first planted, it was done because they just couldn’t think of anything else to do with these slopes. I don’t even think goats would tolerate being grazed on them!

Our afternoon tasting was in Condrieu, we tasted the wines of Domaine Belle, Domaine Ogier, and Jamet, all of which are in Cote Rotie. We also tasted Domaine Cordier from the Macon, and Domaine Ehrhart and Domaine Rene Mure from Alsace. In no particular order, the standout wines from this tasting for me were: the 2009 and 1998 Cote Roties from Jamet, The 2007 Cote Rotie Belle Helene and 2007 Cote Rotie Lancement from Ogier, which come from opposite ends of the appelation, and are an excellent example of the terroir difference between the Cote Brun and the Cote Blonde. (I will elaborate more on this point when I have time…) Ogier also makes some outstanding Viognier, my favorite was his Condrieu “La combe de Malleval”. And last but not at all least, the whole range of Grand Crus from Domaine Ehrhart, particularly the Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Hengst 2008.

For dinner, we visited the Gonnet family at Domaine Font de Michelle in Chateauneuf du Pape. We tasted through their whole range of Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape reds and whites. I was particularly fond of the Chateauneuf rouge Cuvee Etienne Gonnet. We also tasted a second label called simply Gonnet, which is going to be a line of cheaper wines made from negociant juice, several of which were quite good, and will definitely be making an appearance in the store later this year.

Here I am with Guillaume Gonnet, the current winemaker.

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