Tasting Notes – Kysela’s Education on the Rhone

Tasting Notes – Kysela’s Education on the Rhone

Posted on Dec, 06. 2010 by

Categories: Wine

Well, how to start? I hope you all had as much fun last night as I did. There’s something about nights with Rhone reds…perhaps it’s the obligatory 14.5% alcohol? Hell, I’m not too proud to admit that the Rhone has sent me tumbling face first into the bushes before; but, alas, I keep coming back for more. A glutton for punishment, sure, but great Rhone has no equal. That’s really why I keep coming back.

As I said in my last email, this was designed to be an education on the Rhone – 4 reds from the same house, but different “subregions” (Cotes du Rhone, CdR Villages, Vacqueras, Chateauneuf du Pape), to illustrate the uniqueness of the various bottlings. In all honesty, I think this idea was a partial success. The thing is, the wines were from 3 different vintages. 07 was a monster, 08 was more typical, and 09 is, by most accounts, as big or bigger than 07. But, hey, try getting 4 wines from the same producer, 4 different bottlings, from the same vintage, from the warehouse. Not gonna happen…their aging/release schedule tends to screw that up every time. But that having been said, we did get to see some fireworks…for instance, the “normal” 08 vintage KO’ing the “epic” 09…and, really, I think the contrast in vintages was as educational for me as the contrast in sites in any case.

SO, my tops:

2008 Grand Veneur – Cote du Rhone ‘Les Champauvins’
Okay, so this wasn’t quite as much of a surprise for me as it was for others…I’ve been a fan of the Champauvins for the better part of a decade; it represents one of the very best values in Rhone reds out there, year in and year out. The fact that the 08’s weren’t huge fruit-and-alcohol bombs played in this property’s favor, as its success tends to come from subtlety, depth and understated grace. With all the hype coming out of the years leading up to 08, wines like this get overlooked, unless you pay attention. There’s a lovely smokiness that envelopes the silky Grenache fruit, you don’t perceive the alcohol like you do in the bigger vintages, and the mouthfeel is inviting and soft without being too loose. I’ll say it again: one of the very best values in the Rhone!
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $18.00 • Premier Cru: $13.20 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $13.80
Buy Now!

2009 Alain Jaume – Vacqueras ‘Grande Garrigue’
This is, as you can probably gather even if you didn’t get to try it, a bigger wine than the ’08 preceding it. But aside from just the difference in vintage, you pick up a very obvious contrast between Rhone Villages and Vacqueras. There’s considerably more brambly spice here, less plushness, and it’s definitely more of a rustic, gritty style of wine. That’s not a contrast in vintage, but a contrast in place. I find Vacqueras often fills a very specific desire for me…there’s very little flab or superfluity, just a matter-of-factness, a humble seriousness without trying to be too stuffy. Oh, and it’s damned inexpensive…did I mention that? Steph and I drank another bottle of this after the tasting last night – the real test of a wine’s mettle is a long, slow night of geeky sniffing and sipping – and it’s the real deal.
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $16.86 • Premier Cru: $17.63 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $22.99
Buy Now!

Cheers, and thanks to everyone who came out last night!

Comments are closed.