Southern Rhone Archives - Please The Palate
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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Some regions in the world are known for single varietal wines, such as pinot noir and chardonnay in Burgundy, nebbiolo in Barolo and tempranillo in Ribera del Duero. In other regions, such as in Bordeaux, Riojo and the Southern Rhone, they are known for their blends.
I am not here to say that one is better than the other. A single varietal wine can truly express the terroir it comes from. On the other hand, a well-crafted blend will balance the different characteristics of each grape to enhance aromas, color, texture, body or finish of a wine.
The Rhône Valley in France is one of the regions known for its blends. In the Southern Rhône, grenache is the dominant variety but traditionally it is blended with syrah, cinsault and mouvedre. Blending is one of the required rules in Côtes du Rhône and other appellations in Southern Rhone.
Therefore, I was all the more surprised when tasting wines at Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône, the Rhône Valley wine fair earlier this year, where I found more and more producers offering 100 percent grenache wines.
Each week, it is my goal to share the one thing that stood out that week. It could be a wine, a cocktail, a dish or something, someone or somewhere that stood out among everything else. This week proved to be a challenge to find that one thing. I have spent the week traveling from the north to the south of France, visiting six regions and eight wineries. We have eaten a lot and tasted a lot of wine....and all of it was great! The breads, cheeses, butter are just a few to name. And there were so many one-of-a-kind experiences that I promise to share. But, if I have to pick one thing as the Please The Palate "pick-of-the-week," it is the Chêne Bleu Rosé 2016. I was first introduced to Chêne Bleu more than a year ago when I met owner Nicole Rolet in Los Angeles and wrote about her and her winery. At the time, I learned about her winery in the mountains which sits at the crossroads of four appellations in the Southern Rhone - Gigondas, Cotes du Ventoux, Cotes du Rhone and Sequret. I also had the pleasure to taste two of her wines - Abèlard, a grenache blend, and Hèloïse, a syrah blend.