Along with Bordeaux and Burgundy, Rhône Valley wines are acknowledged to be among the best in the world. Situated in the Rhône River Valley in the south of France, the Rhône is comprised of two distinct regions—the north and south—each with its own viniculture and featuring wines of very different character.
The Northern Rhône (referred to in French as Rhône septentrional) produces powerful, aromatically complex and age worthy red wines, often in very limited numbers, from the dignified Syrah grape. Typically, most red wines in the northern zone have had an alcohol content in the common 12% to 13% range, but warmer-than-normal growing seasons (like in 1997, 1999, and 2003 in particular), have brought significantly richer, more powerful, and higher alcoholic content varieties.
The Southern Rhône (or Rhône méridional) yields more than 90% of the valley’s total production. A multitude of markedly more rustic and often richer blends coming from the high-alcohol Grenache grape can be identified by a more “southern” flavor. The wines offer a rich mouth feel, and more of a roasted and somewhat liqueur-ish fruit personality with spice and wild herb accents.
In the Northern Rhône Valley the apotheosis of Viognier, an exotically scented white wine, is also grown. Viognier is a variety that has been recently planted on several continents by growers hoping to capitalize on a strong worldwide demand. There are other white wines from the Rhône Valley (albeit less exciting than Viognier). The majority of these are blends based on Marsanne and Roussanne in the North, and Grenache Blanc and less interesting native varieties in the South.
Wine Spectator, 95 points: Pretty, with cassis and warm raspberry puree notes carried by
silky but persistent structure, while rooibos tea, blood orange and
incense accents fill in the background. The streamlined finish pulls
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 91 points: The deep ruby/purple-colored 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape (90% tank-aged Grenache and 10% barrel-aged Syrah from 65-year-old vines) appears to have resolved all the tannins that stood out last year. Notes of black cherry...
Wine Spectator, 94 points: Dense but refined, showing layers of fig, boysenberry and blackberry paste offset with notes of anise, fruitcake, allspice, mulled
plum and black tea. Exhibits a silky feel through the finish, with
lots of sneaky length...
The Rhone Report, 98 points: As with the estates other '10 the 2010 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Chaupin tasted out of foudre shows uncommon purity and freshness. Exhibiting captivating notes of fresh underbrush flowers violets...
Wine Spectator, 92 points: Very sappy with kirsch and raspberry fruit racing along licorice-tinged tannins. Long and driven with dark fruit black tea sweet tobacco and mineral extending the finish. Drink now through 2028. 650 cases made.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 98 points: One of my favorites was already the 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape Chaupin (which is always aged in foudres and 600-liter demi-muids two-thirds in the former and one-third in the latter) and this wine has really put on richness...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: Coming from a cooler, sandy terroir in the northeastern part of the appellation, the 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Chaupin (which comes 80% from the Chaupoin lieu-dit and 20% from the La Janasse lieu-dit, hence the...
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