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Cotes-du-Rhone and WSJ

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Cotes-du-Rhone and WSJ

by wrcstl » Fri Oct 13, 2006 11:03 am

We get the WSJ free and since I have no money the only reason to read it is for the wine column on Friday, usually rather lame. Today they tasted and talked about under $20 Cote-du-Rhones. Very interesting with a couple of points that made sense.

1) Top 7 wines were '04 and far surpassed '03
2)Lots of junk being made and nothing worthwhile under $10. This may be a gross generalization but they felt the quality of inexpensive Rhones have gone down in exchange for mass produced swill.
3)'04 J.L.Chave Selection "mon Coeur" was the standout winner for $19.99

I thought the article was well done and will look for the Chave wine. For '04 I would dissagree on the under $10 as I really like the Ch de Segries Cote du Rhone from Kysela and it is only $8.99 in the local market. Anybody read this article and have a take on the comments.
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Re: Cotes-du-Rhone and WSJ

by Bruce K » Fri Oct 13, 2006 11:41 am

I haven't tasted a wide range of cheap CdRs, so I can't really comment on their broad observation, but I have found some producers that IMHO make consistently enjoyable value wines, including Chateau de Segries (as you note), Domaine Grand Veneur (also a Kysela import) and Domaine Viret. I've also enjoyed Santa Duc's Vieilles Vignes bottling.

As for whether the bulk of cheap CdRs out there really have gone down the tubes, I noted that the authors did not speculate on whether that was due to efforts by producers to get high Parker scores or not. Of course, the fact that they tasted a bunch of 2003s probably also contributed to their opinion.
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Re: Cotes-du-Rhone and WSJ

by Oliver McCrum » Fri Oct 13, 2006 3:05 pm

They missed the story, IMO: vintage character can in extreme cases like '03 overtake almost everything else. The whole article could have been re-cast as '2003 mostly awful, 2004 much better.'
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Re: Cotes-du-Rhone and WSJ

by OW Holmes » Fri Oct 13, 2006 3:35 pm

I read the article too.
I haven't purchased a lot of CdR for the last few years, but before that, I bought by the case. I skipped the 02 because it was watery, and the 03 because it was jammy. I picked up 7 or 8 04's to try, am halfway thru, and am going back for none tried so far (including two on the WSJ list). I thought I was just missing the right CdRs, and maybe I am, but I tend to agree with the article. I hope the next 3 or 4 bottles prove me wrong, because this was a main-stay.
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Re: Cotes-du-Rhone and WSJ

by Hoke » Fri Oct 13, 2006 3:47 pm

Hmmm. I got a different take on the article.

I think the authors were making a comment, based on the pull-out highlight that CdRs were "tasting more like 'bad merlot'".

I believe they were trying to make the point that many of the producers---and especially the volume/profit driven producers operating in the "bargain" price range under $10---were simply dumbing down the wines to appeal to a broader market, and thereby changing the essential nature of the wine style. In other words, making CdR, almost literally, "the next Merlot".
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Re: Cotes-du-Rhone and WSJ

by wrcstl » Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:30 pm

Hoke wrote:Hmmm. I got a different take on the article.

I think the authors were making a comment, based on the pull-out highlight that CdRs were "tasting more like 'bad merlot'".

I believe they were trying to make the point that many of the producers---and especially the volume/profit driven producers operating in the "bargain" price range under $10---were simply dumbing down the wines to appeal to a broader market, and thereby changing the essential nature of the wine style. In other words, making CdR, almost literally, "the next Merlot".


Hoke,
That is how I read it. The comment on '03 vs '04 was just that, a comment, and one that is not surprising. I found the #1 rated, Chave, and am opening it tonight with a bunch of wine geeks. Also will open the Vidal-Fuery (sp?) but an '01 not '04. Plan on decanting about 1 hour before serving. Will report on the findings.
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Re: Cotes-du-Rhone and WSJ

by Bob Ross » Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:45 pm

My sub allows me to quote parts of the articles, and their conclusion is pretty clear; they tasted 50 different CdRs over several nights, all from 2003 and 2004. They mention this has been a favorite region for them both for many years:

To us, one of the most charming, satisfying and consistent inexpensive reds in the world is Côtes-du-Rhône, from the Rhône Valley of France. We think of it as a classic meatloaf wine, and our thoughts turn to it as soon as we feel the first hint of autumn. At the kind of informal restaurants where people eat hamburgers and liver with onions and bacon, while everyone else drinks beer, we drink Côtes-du-Rhône if one is available. Its charming roughness and generally low price are perfect for comfort food. We have been drinking this wine for decades and recommending it for years.

Some great, very serious wines are made in the Rhône Valley, but Côtes-du-Rhône is simpler, more informal and fun. It can be made from many grape types, though Syrah and Grenache are the most common. We like it young and vibrant, when its peppery, herbal, blackberry and earthy tastes seem charmingly unrestrained and delightful. These are wines designed to make you smile.


***

Our best of tasting was clear. In the midst of such a disappointing tasting, as soon as Dottie smelled it, she said, "Come to Mama!" This had a combination of guts and easy-drinking blackberry charm that we thoroughly enjoyed. It was J. L. Chave Selection "Mon Coeur." One of its U.S. importers, Erin Cannon Imports of Manhasset, N.Y., said that the winery made 4,000 cases and that more than half were distributed in the U.S. It's 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. Unfortunately, it bounced right up against our price limit, at $19.99. In fact, of our seven favorites, none cost less than $10 -- a shame, considering that, in the past, this was one of those inexpensive wines that we could count on in the store.

By the way, at the end of the day, all of our favorites were from the 2004 vintage. In fact, in cases where we tasted the same wine from both vintages, the 2004 was consistently better.

So here's our bottom line: We know there are many people out there who are very fond of their easy-drinking Côtes-du-Rhône. If there's one you like at a price you think is good, that's great; stay with it. And if you have a good wine merchant whom you trust who knows how to cherry-pick among the many Côtes-du Rhônes on the shelves, give it a shot (and focus on 2004). But we would advise you to avoid that aisle for now if you're on your own and looking for a fun, reliable red for dinner tonight. There are better bets in the store.


I must say my own experience has been very much the same; mostly disappointing from both years, and 2004 much better. CdR has been a go to wine for me, but not recently.
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Re: Cotes-du-Rhone and WSJ

by Oliver McCrum » Fri Oct 13, 2006 7:51 pm

Hoke wrote:Hmmm. I got a different take on the article.

I think the authors were making a comment, based on the pull-out highlight that CdRs were "tasting more like 'bad merlot'".

I believe they were trying to make the point that many of the producers---and especially the volume/profit driven producers operating in the "bargain" price range under $10---were simply dumbing down the wines to appeal to a broader market, and thereby changing the essential nature of the wine style. In other words, making CdR, almost literally, "the next Merlot".


CdR was the 'last Merlot,' so there's no reason why it shouldn't come back as the next one; if by 'Merlot' we mean 'forward, fruity, easy-to-drink red wine.' That facility was the reason why it was so popular, over there and over here, and wines like the Chave are clearly exceptions. The popular CdRs were very often made using carbonic maceration, and they were made mostly of Grenache; I assume that this is still true in most cases, and almost always true under $10.
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Re: Cotes-du-Rhone and WSJ

by wrcstl » Sat Oct 14, 2006 2:07 pm

Opened the '04 J.L.Chave "Mon Coeur" last night and it was indeed excellent, a common opinion of all the wine geeks present. Decanted it an hour before. It was full bodied, nice structure, good earth and dark berries and should open up and show even better with 1-2 yrs of bottle age. After the sample bottle went back to the wine store and bought six for the cellar.
Walt

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