Wine Group Lesson 9 – Rhone, Languedoc and Provence

Posted by on April 5, 2011
Our Third and Final Lesson in France

The Everyday Guide to Wine says:

Despite the fame of Bordeaux and Burgundy (and the infamy of Champagne), the most notable French wines in the ancient world actually came from the Rhône Valley.

Wines for this lesson include: a Viognier, a Northern Rhône wine, a Côtes du Rhône, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a Tavel or Provence rosé and a red wine from Languedoc-Roussillon.

For this lesson we have added “nose training” with Le Nez du Vin. It’s all about the nose.  Without it, everything would be sweet, sour, bitter or salty. Most of our tasting is olfactory, meaning our nose fills in the sensations of taste, adding everything the tongue can’t.

We blind-sniffed 6 essences which were to be present in our wines of the evening and tried to identify them. It was soooo hard. Once we were told what the smell should be our brains were like – “Oh yeah, I can smell that now,” but without knowing, is was quite telling to see that our noses really didn’t know much at all. Well, there were a few smart sniffers but most of us….

Here’s our wines:

2009 Domaine des Salices, Voignier ($12.99). It smelled fruity like peaches and grapefruit and was low acid but was not sweet – it was well balanced. It had a somewhat thick feeling on the tongue – not like full cream but maybe like 2%. It was very good after eating a bite of blue cheese.

2006 E. Guigal, Crozes-Hermitage, Syrah ($24.95). It smelled of black pepper (one of our nose training scents) and perhaps a bit of smokiness. It had low acid with light tannins and was fairly dry. It had a long finish and was excellent paired with a bite of raspberry chocolate.

2008 Saint-Esprit, Côtes du Rhône, 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache ($12.99). This wine had hints of cherry and vanilla aromas. It had low acid with light tannins and was a bit dry. It had a medium body and was quite warming.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Red

#1 for the night

2005 E. Guigal, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 80% old Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, 5% others ($51.99). This wine smelled light and lovely with a hint of cherry and other red fruits. It was low acid and had very strong but fine tannins. Medium body. Tasted best by itself. No food needed to improve the flavor.

2009 Chateau Routes, Rosé, 55% Cinsault, 23% Syrah, 14% Grenache, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99). This was our first rosé so we were all excited to try it especially after watching our lesson and hearing that it would smell like berry, melon, and lavender. Unfortunately, our bottle did not smell like that at all. Perhaps we had a bad bottle. It smelled like very strong yeast which I first interpreted to be “barfy” smelling or “stinky feet” smelling. It was a bit off-putting. But once the bottle breathed a bit we persevered and gave her taste. It was a dry wine with a light—yet slightly buttery—body with a long finish.

2008 Le Grand Noir GSM, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre ($9.99). This wine smelled of dark fruits, was slightly high in acid, and had a light body.

Next lesson we move on to Northern Italy. Cheers!

2 Responses to Wine Group Lesson 9 – Rhone, Languedoc and Provence

  1. deborah colman

    i could write a french antique and design column for savvy nomad. also about great small french hotels. what do you think?