Thursday, August 3, 2017

Believe The Hype: 2015 Rhones

Hyping vintages is a perennial passtime in the wine media.  The Bourdoulais are especially good at it, but the rest of the marketing world is in on the game, too.  Just Google "vintage of the century" and you'll be flooded with results. 

You'd think crying wolf would catch up with them as consumers get wise to the tiresome, repetitive nonsense.  I mean, if 2015 was the best vintage ever, and so were 2010 and 2005 and so on, why should we believe them when they chant it again next year?  Because we have short attention spans, that's why.  Adding insult to injury is how vintages get rated for vintage charts. Counterintuitively, most vintage ratings are a factor of quality of top producers in a given region rather than the overall quality. If you're in the top 1%of 1%ers, then that might be useful information.  For the rest of us, trial and error is required.

Perhaps I can save you some trouble. There's been a fair bit of hype around the 2015 vintage in the Rhone valley.  Now that the more affordable (less serious) of these wines have begun to hit shelves, I've done some sampling.  Right out of the gate and without exception, the first handful of wines I've had in past vintages impressed.  So, I started picking wines at random, even straying beyond the confines of the Rhone AOC and into neighboring areas.

The result?  Not a single disappointing wine.  Bottle after bottle have been more than just good.  What's more is that I have yet to spend more than $16 on a single bottle - and some have been real knock out, memorable wines to stock up on. 

If there's a commonality among the many different wines it's that there's real vibrance and honesty.
Flavors are pure and unadulterated, magnified by a sunshine-like quality that juices their energy and expressiveness.  It's a rare occasion that I'm able to make such a broad-sweeping recommendation, but there's plenty of these wines to go around and you should partake in the pleasure.  A few of these follow, but don't limit yourself to these.

(Quick note: I have relied heavily on B-21.com as a source for wines as the local retail market goes through a period of consolidation.  Their prices and delivery are reasonable, and their selection is pretty darn good.  Just be sure to give your wines a couple of weeks to rest after shipping - it really does make a difference.)

2015 Ferraton Pere & Fils Cotes du Rhone 'Samorens' $10
Rich, dark, full, and well made, this fruit-forward red is a crowd pleaser. Terrific way to introduce California wine drinkers to the allure of the Rhone. Nice, versatile wine at a value price.  The mroe I have this, the more I like it.

2015 Domaine Cabirau Cotes du Roussillon $15
Bright and exuberant, this savory, intense red is complex, and cerebral while still being accessible. Laser focused and energetic, the deep core yields to a grippy, tannic finish. The whole package has an allure that'll make you squeeze the bottle for every last drop.  Absolutely brilliant.

2015 Domaine Les Grands Bois  Cotes du Rhone 'Les 3 Soeurs' $13
Mamma, mia.  Very approachable and easy to cozy up to, but full of fresh, crushed flowers and deep fruit that combine for a sophisticated package.



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