Day 6 – 12 days of Wine – Côtes du Rhône in France’s Rhône Valley
Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône Reserve 2019, Rhône Valley, France
Ah, France. When most of us think of wine, French wine is the first that comes to mind. What we call International Varieties first came to notoriety here. France is the home of Champagne, Bordeaux, and Burgundy (who prefer to be called Bourgogne now). There is the Loire Valley, Chablis, Alsace, and Provençe.
The climates in France vary from Mediterranean to continental and maritime; with the mountains and rivers, there are a variety of climates and soils. All this diversity makes for an abundance of delicious grapes and wine.
Côtes du Rhône
The Southern Rhône Valley is known for its blends. This is the home of the GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre blend). But quite honestly, a fruit basket of grapes can be used in a Côtes du Rhône including Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, Vaccarèse, Terret, Marselan, Calitor, Muscardin, and red versions of Muscat, Picpoul. I’m sure there are more, but you get the idea. These grapes bring different things to the wine, so no two Côtes du Rhônes with be the same.
The Southern Rhône is a warmer area, so the wines tend to be fuller and more fruit-forward in this region, which follows the Rhône River south to where it meets the Mediterranean Sea.
The Côtes du Rhône is an AOC that encompasses 171 communes covering the whole of the Rhone Valley. Côtes du Rhônes are medium in body and great for food pairing.
You will find notes of cherry, black currant, rosemary, blackberry, fig, dried herbs, lavender, cinnamon, raspberry, and black pepper with some jammy notes.
Famille Perrin is a 5th generation winery in the Southern Rhône Valley. Château de Beaucastel, their estate, is located in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the crowing jewel of the Southern Rhône.
Here ‘terroir’ means more than just the land. It is the essence of their wines. They respect and care for this place, the land, and the soil so the grapes can truly express themselves in the wine.
You may be familiar with Miraval, a project they created with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. There is also the ‘chicken wine’ La Vielle Ferme, a low-cost, quality crowd-pleasing wine. I know many wine geeks who will happily pick up a bottle of this wine for a weeknight dinner. It is delicious and reliable.
On the high end, you have the Château de Beaucastel wines in the sweet spot of Châteauneuf-du-Pape with vineyards filled with ‘galets’ or large pudding stones and vines trained ‘en goblet’ the goblet style, with no trellising.
In between, you find the Famille Perrin Crus and Famille Perrin.
Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhône Reserve 2019
This wine is meant to be an everyday wine, and I would happily drink it daily. It is 40% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre and 20% Syrah. It ferments in stainless steel and ages for a year, partially in stainless steel tanks and partly in oak barrels.
They say that years ending in 9 seem to be memorable. Here is a quote from their website.
“The years in 9 regularly mark the memory of winegrowers, and this vintage was no exception. After an early bud burst in early April, flowering was gradual and took place in good conditions in all the vineyards. Then a hot summer began in late June, which the vines bravely resisted: they suffered little from water stress, thanks to the chamomile herbal infusions we sprayed on the vegetation to cope with the heat. Finally, the harvest went as usual, without any particular precocity. The wines are promising; a vintage in 9 is born, once again, under a lucky star.”
14.5% abv $11.99 Total Wine or Wine.com
Why we chose this wine
The Perrins began farming organically in 1950, and in 1974 they converted to biodynamics. They are playing the long game and understand that caring for the land today will allow them to farm further into the future.
They walk the walk on going beyond sustainability.
There is nothing like the depth of flavor and warmth of cassoulet. This traditional dish from the South of France is brilliant with wines of the Southern Rhône.
Traditionally the dish is made with duck. This is because ducks in this part of France are plentiful. Not so much in the US these days. So we make our cassoulet with chicken thighs and duck fat to infuse that duck flavor. Rather than using Italian sausage, we use hardwood smoked sausage.
The recipe is quicker than traditional cassoulet. We use canned beans and do a quick cook in a rod iron skillet before finishing it off in the oven.
Check out our book series, “Tempting Spoonfuls” available through Amazon!
Inspired by the flavors and aromas in wines, this book creates “tempting spoonfuls” of flavors to pair with wines.
Robin has always had a love for spoons, with a drawer full of them in all different shapes and sizes. There is comfort in eating something from a spoon and something very sensual also.
Creating a spoon filled with flavors and aromas that will be eaten in a single bite, allowing the flavors to meld and pop in your mouth, is a joyful endeavor, and you are encouraged to make these your own.
The spoons range from savory to sweet, with something for everyone, and while they are paired with wines, they are delicious on their own.
These recipes are wonderful for appetizers and hors d’oeuvres or simple to create something delicious to spoil yourself, much like a pint of ice cream.
Each of these spoons is paired with a specific wine, and you get a bit of background on the wine, its flavors, aromas, and a bit of its story. She also includes other suggestions for wines to pair with the spoon.
The book is a feast for your eyes, with photos of each layered spoonful.
There are also photos of the wines with the elements of their flavor profile surrounding them. Those elements often inspire the pairing.
The goal is to make your mouth water and encourage you to create your own “Tempting Spoonfuls.”
“Tempting Spoonfuls – Pairing single bites with glorious wines” – Our first book paired wines from boutique wineries on the west coast, in California, Oregon, and Washington, with delicious spoonfuls.
This book is 60 pages, 18 recipes, lots of beautiful photos, and insights into some fantastic small wineries!
“Tempting Spoonfuls – small bites paired with wines from around the Globe” – This book takes us around the globe to explore 12 wine regions, a wine from the region, and then gives you a recipe for a pairing!
A slightly larger book at 104 pages, this time you learn about pairing with a type of wine from a region. Rather than a specific bottle, you can look for a style of wine from a region and feel confident that it will go well with the recipe pairing we provide. We give you 12 recipes, each to pair with a wine.
Either of these books gives you wonderful recipes to create appetizer spoons to pair with wines for a party!
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine and WSET 3 Certified. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.