Châteauneuf-du-Pape is quite often the gateway region that introduces curious wine drinkers to the essence of terroir. An almost perfect union of soils, climate, and grape varieties combine to create one of the world’s great red wines that tends to be expressive from youth to maturity, with an exuberance and sophistication rarely matched. The next best thing to a great Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a less expensive, yet superb bottle of Southern Rhône red wine from nearby appellations that costs a fraction compared to its more prominent cousin.
The Rhône River stretches from the Alps to the Mediterranean through an incredibly diverse expanse. At its southern end, between the cities of Vienne and Avignon, rolling hills meet plateaus of varying elevation under the toasty Mediterranean sun. Long, warm summers and mild winters allow the region’s dominant grape variety, Grenache, to yield good concentration via stony soils and low rainfall. This is the region of France’s most user-friendly wines.
We are pleased to offer a box of easy-drinking yet refined red wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s sister Cru villages. These are wines with a warmth ideal for pairing with hearty meals and cold winter nights. The appellations of Cairanne, Gigondas, Lirac, Rasteau, and Vacqueyras are all capable of producing wines of superior quality that often rival their more celebrated neighbor, and are made with similar strict and rigorous regulations.
Included in Southern Rhône Riches 10-Bottle Package are two each of the following wines:
The price includes a 15% discount, tax, and delivery. We will also honor a 10% discount on any bottles you might wish to add to the package.
The second Côtes du Rhônes Villages to be upgraded to Cru status and a stone’s throw across Vaucluse from the famed vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras sits beneath the jagged, lacy peaks of the Dentelles de Montmirail rising up in the east. 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and Cinsault, Serge Férigoule’s Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux 2018 (Regular $45) is easily one of the best of the type. The fruit is organically farmed on the great Plateau des Garrigues, where red clay, limestone, and the famous galets roulés, or rounded stones, impart an intensity and depth to the wines. The wine is dark, rich, full-flavored, wild and chewy, with notes of leather, spicy garrigue, and smoky, black fruit.
Cairanne (elevated to cru status in 2016) is perhaps the most promising and exciting subregion in Southern Rhône today. The village is situated atop a range of low hills with ideal exposure. It’s elevation ensures slightly cooler temperatures than much of the region and lends a brightness and delicacy to the wine. Marcel Richaud’s Domaine Richaud 2018 (Regular $37) is an organically certified cuvée that aims to express the village’s terroir from soils of poor, stony clay-limestone on mid-slope plots. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Carignan from 40 to 70-year-old vines, the wine is fermented and aged primarily in concrete tanks, with a portion in oak barrels, then bottled unfined and unfiltered with only a small amount of sulfites. The result is a wine that is both rich and electric, with complex aromas of fruit (both fresh and preserved) and herbal spice. A sip fills the mouth with ripe berries and licorice riding a mineral spine.
Situated in the low-lying hills on the right bank of the Rhône River directly across from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Lirac reds are elegant, well-balanced, and structured. Domaine Pierre Usseglio, now run by his sons, Jean-Pierre and Thierry, has risen to such prominence over the past two decades, it must be considered as not only one of the top addresses in Southern Rhône but in all of France. Domaine Pierre Usseglio 2018 (Regular $37) is a blend of 60% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, and 10% Cinsault from clay and pebble soils. The vines are around forty years old. The wine is aged in concrete vats and demi-muids over a period of 12 months to produce a sturdy, solidly built drink loaded with notes of plum, cola and spice. It’s full-bodied, finishing warm and velvety.
The village of Rasteau was awarded cru status way back in 1944 for their sweet, Vin Doux Naturel. It took a little longer to see the hard work and determination of the region’s vignerons to be awarded cru status for their deeply-colored, robust, dry red wines but now the appellation is considered one of Southern Rhône’s best. Traditional winemakers Daniel and Frédéric Coulon hold around 60 acres in the Rasteau appellation. All of Domaine de Beaurenard’s vines are certified biodynamic. In the vineyards, these methods involve working the soil without herbicides, spreading carefully-dynamised manure, and maintaining sensible grass cover. Domaine de Beaurenard 2017 (Regular $32) is all herbal and red cherries. A blend of 80% Grenache, 17% Syrah, and 3% Mourvèdre, it’s medium to full-bodied, creamy and supple.
Gigondas is the first Côtes du Rhônes Villages to be upgraded to Cru status (1971). It borders Vacqueryas to the northeast and lies within the protection of the toothy, lacy, and majestic rock faces of the Dentelles de Montmirail. Think of it as Châteauneuf-du-Pape from higher, rockier ground. A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, Pierre Amadieu “Romane Machotte” 2018 (Regular $30) comes from vines averaging 45 years old growing in alternating Cretaceous limestone and marl soils with a northwest exposure at an altitude of almost 1,000 feet. It ages 12 months in oak foudres and barrels. Berry salad flavors are enveloped in soft yet powerful tannins, mingling with scents of Provençal wild herbs.