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SOUTHERN RHÔNE

April 8, 2002 • WestAmerica Bank

We decided to subdue our provincial tendency to taste West Coast and instead sample some Southern Rhône and Languedoc wines. France's Rhône appellation has two different climates.The Northern Rhône is generally warmer, being farther inland, and wetter, with higher average annual rainfall. Syrah is the only AOC - approved grape allowed there. The Southern Rhône, with its cooler, somewhat drier Mediterranean-influenced climate, grows many other red varieties, although the principal grape is Grenache. Several of the wines from the lesser-known appellations were purchased at Canned Foods Warehouse, a small grocery chain that specializes in closeouts, which in this case came from the auctioned-off assets of bankrupt Wines.Com. A couple were spoiled, a couple were interesting, one was an amazing value (In fact, should you locate more than you care to buy, contact us!).

Brand Varietal / "Type"
Vintage,
Appellation, Vineyard

TASTING NOTES: Color; aroma; flavor; body;
balance; finish. Alcohol. Varietal composition
(if known). Summary. ($ paid)

Wines are considered Equal Quality
Within Categories of Recommendation
(Listed Alphabetically by Brand)

consensus terms appear in bold
(possible flaws? are in brackets)
* indicates a second or third party
WEBSITE

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Domaine L'Ameillaud Côtes du Rhône.Domaine L'Ameillaud
1999 Côtes du Rhone AC

Very dark plum purple; honey, woodruff and wood aromas with slightly earthy, leathery, musty, pruney tones; plummy, grapey, raisiny, juicy, extracted, concentrated flavors with hints of rose petal, eucalyptus, green olive, earth, smoke, pepper and spice; fat, fleshy, round, soft; good balance, slightly acidic; fairly long and pleasant finish. 13.5% alc. This is a great example of the appellation at its best ... if you find any, buy it, even at three times the price! ($3) INCREDIBLE BUY (as auctioned off from Wines.com) WEBSITE n/a

Guigal Gigondas label.E. Guigal
1998 Gigondas AC

Deep, dark burgundy-purple with a garnet edge; ripe fruit, floral, anise and some light oak in the light, delicate, but clean aromas; appealing, young, herbal, grapey, jammy, roasted fruit flavors with hints of pepper, coffee, licorice, cedar, mint or perfume; full, fat body; very good balance, very slightly high acid; medium-long, pleasant finish is barely tannic. 13.5% alc. This delicious wine demonstrates why the house of Guigal is considered to be one of the best and most consistent Rhône producers. ($20) WEBSITE n/a

RECOMMENDED

Chardonnay La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape label.Chateau La Nerthe
2000
Chateauneuf du Pape AC

Dark plum purple; plum fruit with pepper, hints of earth, yeast, butter, rubber (ethyl acetate?); clean, complex, jammy, black fruit and brown spice flavors; medium body with a rich, fleshy mouthfeel (flabby?); good balance with nice acidity; mild, soft tannins in the long, pleasant finish. 13.5% alc. Except for the color, this wine did not seem youthful; it drinks well with texture and balance as its standout features, rather than flavors. ($36) WEBSITE

Joel Dupont Chateauneuf du Pape label.Joel Dupont
1999 "Val de la Pierre"
Chateauneuf du Pape AC

Medium-dark garnet-edged purple; complex aroma has low fruit, caramelized sugar, green olive, some spicy oak and menthol with older, aged, earthy, slightly leesy, meaty, barnyard smells (Brettanomyces?); brown sugar, spice, grain and cedar flavors; medium body; good balance, soft; finishes short, but with sturdy tannins. 13.5% alc. Although the wine seems prematurely aged and the nose somewhat faded, this wine's flavors beg for beef roast.. ($10) WEBSITE n/a

Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône.Louis Bernard
2000 Côtes du Rhône-Villages AC

Very dark-inky, violet, plum purple; clean, ripe, grapey, orange-citrussy, fruity with touches of fresh beet, green olive, spice, barnyard, earth and oak in the aroma; clean, ripe, grapey, black cherry, spicy (chemical?), coffee, mild pepper, bacon fat, flavors; slightly acidic balance; soft tannin with a medium-length finish. 13.5% alc. Very drinkable, although controversial, being too soft and simple for some tasters. ($9) WEBSITE n/a

TASTED

Le Sec Chateauneuf du Pape label.Le Sec
1998 "Aurore"
Chateauneuf du Pape AC

Medium dark brown; woody, brown sugar, beet, anise, menthol, clove, dill and nutty, Burgundy-like aromas; well-aged meaty, earthy flavors have herbs, cinnamon, pepper, eucalyptus and wood and but seem to lack fruit, comes off a bit thin and dried-out (rubber hose? Brettanomyces?); soft tannin; long, but flabby finish. 13.5% alc. Light, developed flavors are pleasant enough; this wine would be quite enjoyable paired with food and away from the flashier, competing bottles. ($20) WEBSITE n/a

Schlumberger Gigondas.Schlumberger
1998 "Montirius" Gigondas AC

Medium-dark red with browning, brick edge; muted, low aroma, first impression is of wet cardboard, mildew, barnyard, slightly perfumey, touch of melon, celery, minerals; clean, earthy, spicy, faintly licorice or pepper, tight, austere, stingy, generally weak flavors; medium to full body, balance is acidic; somewhat tannic finish. 13.5% alc. This wine's style begs for food accompaniment. ($20) WEBSITE n/a

NOT RECOMMENDED

Ch Bellefontaine Costieres de Nimes label.Chateau Bellefontaine
1999 Costières de Nîmes AC

Ruby brown; clean, young, stemmy, vinous aroma with touches of new oak, green herbs and butter; clean, weak, thin, simple, hollow, watered down, unripe flavors; somewhat tart, sour balance; hard, but not particularly tannic; short finish. 12.5% alc. Some panelist comments include: "Boring", "Lacks charm", "Hopeless". ($3) WEBSITE

Ch Lamargue Costieres de Nimes label.Chateau Lamargue
1999 Costières de Nîmes AC

Medium-dark red with brown edges; Concord grape jam, candy, butter, wood, coffee, herb and mint aromas (oxidation?, rubber?); plum, Viognier, mint, spice, overripe melon, earth and coffee flavors (shellac?, glue?); light to medium body; soft tannins; light finish. 12.5% alc. Overall, a rather odd wine that tasters didn't know what to make of; on balance "Uninspiring", as one panelist put it. ($3) WEBSITE n/a

Domaine St Remy Coteaux du Tricastin label.Domaine Saint-Remy
1999
Coteaux du Tricastin AC

CORKED bottle.
($3)
WEBSITE n/a

BONUS:

Muscat top.Domaine de Coyeux 2000 Muscat Beaumes de Venise AC
Deanna brought this as an appropriate aprés tasting treat. It was, on all counts! Absolutely bursting with ripe apricot and floral perfume and balanced with crisp acidity to cap off the sweet, ripe flavors. We have to put this into the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED category. ($28)
Muscat bottom.
This Panel included Regulars Deanna, Glenn, Bob, Steve, Ray, Tammy, and Jim
Rhône PrimerAbout Grenache About Muscat

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Updated October 18, 2002
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