Rhone Valley still offers wine gems
France’s Rhone Valley has been a constant source for highquality, well-priced wine for decades and the good news is that prices have remained stable (unfortunately the same cannot be said for the euro) and recent vintages have been good to excellent. You can splurge on great Chateauneuf-du-Pape (from the southern half of the valley) or Hermitage and Cote Rotie from the north, but the value lies in the Cotes-du-Rhone and Cotes-duRhone Villages realm.
Winemakers have a broad palate of grape varietals to work with in the southern half of the valley (there are 13 red varietals permitted for Chateauneuf-duPape) but it is Syrah and Grenache — and to a lesser degree, Mourvedre — that steal the show in most cases. These red wines tend to be balanced and versatile, delivering black fruits, spice (especially black pepper) and what the French call garrigue, a wild sage bush of sorts that often displays notes of lavender. Here are few of my current favourites: Xavier Cotes-du-Rhones