SOURCE: Rhône Valley Wine Council

August 25, 2005 10:00 ET

An Embarrassment of Riches!

Top Ten Tips on How to Choose the Perfect Côtes du Rhône Wine

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- August 25, 2005 -- Ever felt lost in a wine store? Ever had trouble navigating a restaurant's wine list? Why not simplify matters once and for all by focusing on one fabulous French wine region, Côtes du Rhône? With a vast array of delicious wines to suit every taste, price range and occasion, you simply can't go wrong! So, let's put the fun back into selecting a perfect bottle of wine with the following ten tips.

1. Where Is The Rhône Valley?

The Côtes du Rhône wine region is located in the Southeast of France. The Rhône Valley contains two distinct regions, the North and the South, both of which straddle the Rhône River and are known primarily for their reds.

2. Grape News

In all, up to thirteen grapes can be grown and blended to produce red Côtes du Rhône wines. Fortunately you don't have to remember all of them; just the four primary reds: in the North, Syrah (known as Shiraz elsewhere) rules. In the South, Grenache and Syrah are the main components of the blend, with Mourvèdre and Cinsault usually added to round out the taste.

3. Fruit, Spice and All Things Nice

Good words to describe Rhône wines are dry, fruity and (sometimes) spicy/peppery. Côtes du Rhône's main grape varietal, Syrah, creates big, bold and tannic wines, while Grenache produces fruit-forward, easy-to-drink wines.

4. Good Things Come In Threes -- Basic, Specific, Best!

The reason that the range of Rhône Valley wines is so remarkable is because there are three appellations: Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages and the "Cru." For simplicity, these levels can be thought of as Basic, Specific and Best.

     1. Luckily for you, Basic Côtes du Rhône wines aren't really basic at
        all, but are so named because they offer delicious and inexpensive
        wines.
     2. The Specific wines are called "Villages" and are exclusive to the
        South. They comprise specific villages whose wines have been
        deemed by peers as deserving their own distinct appellations.
     3. Best Côtes du Rhône wines are at the top and are also known as
        "Cru." There are fourteen of these cru wines and they are justly
        famed for their velvety reds.

5. It's On The Label

It's easy to identify a Côtes du Rhône or a Côtes du Rhône Villages as that's exactly what's written on the wine's label. The Cru wines will say something like "Appellation Saint Joseph Contrôlée," with Saint Joseph being the name of a specific region in the Rhône Valley. Also to be found on every label is the prestigious symbol "AOC" which stands for Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée. The "AOC" system was devised by the French government to guarantee quality. And, don't forget to turn the bottle around, as the back label often contains lots of useful information regarding varietals, the winemaker, food pairings, etc.

6. The Dirt

The Mediterranean climate where Côtes du Rhône wines are grown is characterized by seasons of rain, warm temperatures and exceptionally sunny periods, and is greatly influenced by the Mistral, a strong wind necessary and beneficial to the vine's development. Additionally, the grapes are grown in a variety of soil types including pebbles, granite, chalk and alluvium. The combined elements of climate, soil and grape varietal give Côtes du Rhône wines their unique character.

7. Food For Thought

Lighter red Côtes du Rhône wines (those in which the Grenache grape dominates) are ideal with white meats, cold cuts and soft and hard cheeses. Richer red wines (those in which the Syrah grape dominates) are ideal to accompany red meats, lamb, casseroles and mature cheeses. Also, don't rule out the cuisines of the world when pairing a Côtes du Rhône with your next meal. The Rhône Valley produces wines of such power and personality that they pair beautifully with all types of cuisine from French to Asian to Mediterranean.

8. Bang For The Buck

Rhône Valley wines are relative bargains, with Côtes du Rhône wines retailing for around $10 a bottle and the Villages for $15. The Cru are more expensive, starting at around $20 a bottle, because they are respected above all others for their quality.

9. Want To Know More? \For more information log onto the Côtes du Rhône website at: www.rhone-wines.com.

10. Go For It!

Now you're all set to choose the perfect Côtes du Rhône wine for any occasion and are sure to impress your friends, family and business associates with all that you know. One last tip: Think Red. Think Côtes du Rhône!

Côtes du Rhône Cheat Sheet!

1. Where Is The Rhône Valley? Southeast of France.

2. Grape News: North is Syrah. South is Syrah and Grenache (plus Cinsault and Mourvèdre).

3. Fruit, Spice and All Things Nice: Rhône wines are dry, fruity and spicy/peppery: Syrah, creates big, bold and tannic wines, while Grenache produces fruit-forward, easy to drink wines.

4. Basic, Specific, Best equals Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages and Cru.

5. It's On The Label: Appellations are indicated on the front label as is the AOC guarantee which guarantees quality. The back labels contain a lot of helpful information too!

6. The Dirt: Mediterranean climate, soil and grape varietal give the wines their character.

7. Food For Thought: Pair the lighter wines (Grenache grape) with white meats and soft cheeses. Pair the more robust wines (Syrah grape) with red meats, lamb and mature cheeses. Also, pair wines with any global cuisine that tickles your fancy.

8. Bang For The Buck: Prices retail around $10 for a Côtes du Rhône, $15 for a Villages and $20 for a Cru.

9. Want To Know More? www.rhone-wines.com.

10. Go For It! Looking for a wine to fit any occasion? Think Red. Think Côtes du Rhône!

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Inter-Rhône c/o Sopexa USA
    Pieter van Vorstenbosch
    Tel: 212-477-9800 x108
    E-mail: Email Contact