Wine & Food

    Bottles of Hermitage wine, produced in the Rhône Valley (Getty)

    Forget claret and California, Rhône is the ruler of the reds

    16 September 2016

    Happy International Grenache Day, everyone. On this auspicious, wine-PR-industry invented occasion, Spectator Life would like raise a glass to the great grape. Moreover, we’d especially like to celebrate the wines of the Rhône, which in our humble opinion can bring out the absolute best of Grenache’s complex and manifold flavours. Leave the claret for the special occasions, put the Burgundy back on its shelf, give the new world wines a break. Today, at the Spectator at any rate, is a day for drinking Grenache-led Rhône reds.

    Grenache delivers what Pinot Noir promises, say the wine bores, and they are right. A good, cheap Rhône tends to be far more satisfying than a flashy Californian Pinot Noir — and who cares, really, if doesn’t have the same metropolitan snob appeal? Rhône is proper rural, earthy and agrarian French wine — and all the better for it.

    It’s a good time of the year for Rhône wines, too. As autumn sets in, and the nights grow darker and colder, a £10 bottle of a hearty Côtes Du Rhône (2014 Berry Bros.& Rudd Côtes du Rhône Rouge by Famille Perrin, see below) or, if you can spend more, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, can be the perfect dinner companion. Good Rhône wines go with any food really, but can be best when paired with a lamb dish or beef or some other substantial feast. There is much variety among Rhône wines that it is hard to know where to begin, so we have chosen a few Grenache-packed Spec favourites under £15.

    Spectator Life’s favourite Rhônes

    2014 Berry Bros.& Rudd Côtes du Rhône Rouge by Famille Perrin
    A brilliant example of an affordable and yet delicious Rhône wine. It is very much a Grenache wine, but nicely balanced with subtler Syrah and Mourvedre influences. It has remarkable complexity for a wine under £11

    Gigondas: Château Raspail 2012
    This is a great dinner-party wine; it’s flexible and tastes better and better with every sip. It tastes of strawberries and herbs and is rich but not overbearing. An absolute gem.

    Pavillon du Château Beauchêne, Côtes du Rhône 2013
    Chateau Beauchêne and brilliant winemaker Michel Bernard are well known bring out utterly exquisite wines. This is a quintessential Rhône depth and nuance, full of flavour and wonderfully moreish.