- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Perrin & Fils, Vinsobres Cotes du Rhone Villages “Les Cornuds,” 2004, $16

Reds from 2004 in France’s Rhone Valley are beginning to crowd out their more ballyhooed 2003 siblings on store shelves. Don’t worry. The praise bestowed on the 2003 Rhone vintage was mostly hype, as that year’s extreme heat produced freakish wines.

The 2003 Rhones were full of fruit but also often hot and heavy. By contrast, 2004 marks a return to consistency, with wines more typical of their origin — both the grape varieties from which they were made and their vineyards and appellations.

Reds from the various Cotes du Rhone Village appellations tend to be made from a blend of grape varieties, including, most prominently, grenache, mourvedre and syrah. Good examples taste of red and black summer fruits, with a distinctly spicy, often earthy or smoky undertone. They invariably offer a bouquet that hints at black pepper and dried herbs. Medium-bodied, they are very versatile at the supper table, and pair especially well with grilled fare.

This Vinsobres (one of the 18 named Cotes du Rhone villages) is made from equal parts grenache and syrah and displays a genuinely classic Rhone character. It should age well for a few years, but is drinking so well now that there is no need to wait before pulling the cork.

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