Yes, we blend! And in the Côtes du Rhône that usually means Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault in the red wines which make up 84% of production in 2018. For white wines, only 6% of wines are white wines with blends of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Clairette, Marsanne, and Rousanne. The remaining 10% is rose– and we’re usually back to Grenache there!
Fortunately for those of us around the world about 31% of these wines are exported! And many– like the ones below– are very affordable.
Rhône Inspired Menu
Cassoulet is a peasant dish that takes three days to make, and with expensive ingredients like duck and rabbit, it can be quite expensive as well. But we developed a quick and affordable instant pot recipe that uses chicken drumsticks (recipe below).
- Cheese, pate, bread
- Arugula tomato salad with bacon
- Squash Souffle
- Chicken Instant Pot Cassoulet
- Chocolate Eclairs
Côtes du Rhône Wines
- 2017 Maison Les Alexandrins Terrasses de l’Eridan
- 2020 Domaine Chamfort La Pause Rosé Cuvée “La Pause”
- 2020 Caves du Fornalet
- 2020 Laurent Dublanc
- 2019 Domaine Les Aphillanthes Cuvée Les Galets
- 2018 Domaine d’Andezon Les Vignerons d’Estézargues
- 2018 Louis Bernard Rouge
- 2015 Xavier Vignon Arcane XIX Le Soleil
We tasted these wines “blind” not knowing price or blends to guess what was in them!
- Gwendolyn Alley, USA Wine Tasting Team 2019-2021
- Carrie Roberts, wine enthusiast
- Gretel Compton, Clos des Amis co-owner and co-winemaker
- Sue Hill, USA Wine Tasting Team 2019-2021
- Lisa Stoll, USA Wine Tasting Team 2018, 2020, 2021
- John Walsh, wine enthusiast
2017 Maison Les Alexandrins Terrasses de l’Eridan
Côtes du Rhône AOC
Blend: 60% Grenache Blanc, 25% Viognier, and 15% Marsanne
Imported by Vineyard Brands; sample for my review
Respectfully working manually to restore a rich biodiversity, parcel by parcel Maison Les Alexandrins pursues harmony from the vineyard to the cellar.
A lovely wine but better with a different pairing. It’s hard to come up with one menu that will go with everything, and our focus was to pair with the Grenache noir based blends.
Color: Very pale straw, pale lemon.
Aroma: Intense aromatically, medium +, petrol, minerality, white flower, gardenia, waxy white flower, lemon, herbs, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, meadow grasses, end of summer, dried herbs,
Palate: Bright acidity, tart lemon, nice perfume, full bodied viscosity,
Pairing: With food this wine becomes the back door. It is not terrible with the meal nor did it fight with the meal. But neither did shine. It went best with the squash soufflé’s loving the salty sweetness of the dish. The wine was not able to compete with the richness of the meal leaving the wine limp and the dish un-elevated. Try it with a more simply roasted chicken rather than the dense richness of cassoulet.
2020 Domaine Chamfort La Pause Rosé Cuvée “La Pause”
Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet AOC
Blend: 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah
sample for my review
Color: Pale peachy, salmon, blush on an apricot.
Aroma: French funk, light mint, cantaloupe, subtle nose
Palate: Tart fruit, minerality, tangerine, fresh picked raspberry on the finish, very clean, dry, It is a simple yet delicious wine. It is well balanced and easy to enjoy. John really liked this wine thinking it was very easy to drink.
Pairing: Great with the salad loving the earthy elements of the wine. Great with the pate, mushrooms in the brie are fantastic with the wine however Lisa disagreed. Not fabulous with the soufflé’s, but not awful with it either. The wow pairing of this wine came when we had it with the French apple sausage in the cassoulet. The wine elevates the dish.
2020 Caves du Fornalet
Cotes du Rhone
Sue purchased at Trader Joe’s
Fantastic wine for only $5.99 at Trader Joe’s. Sue had had it before and found it to be a great value and wanted to share it with us. Food friendly, cocktail hour friendly, very expressive, easy to enjoy. Our guess is that this leads with Grenache lead. We also guess it has Mouvedre and Carignan as well. Not sure how it will hold up over time — a day or two or a year or two in the cellar, but why not just drink the heck out of this now?
Lisa: “For $5.99 I am going to go to Trader Joe’s tomorrow to get some.”
Color: Deep purple, medium plus density, magenta rim
Aroma: Nice earthiness, violets, no pepper, plum, bramble fruit, raspberry, blue fruit, very pretty nose, black pepper, baking spices,
Palate: Ripe fruit, subtle bramble fruit, acidity and tannins, from the taste you would think it is whole cluster fruit. Black pepper, black pepper especially on the finish. This is a crowd pleasing wine.
Pairing: Great with the arugula salad bringing out tannins that are not so present without the wine. It did not like the salty characteristics of the cassoulet, the salt in the bacon and the meal were too saline for the wine. With the soufflé’s, however, the salty sweet, richness of the dish were perfect with the wine.
2020 Laurent Dublanc
Sue purchased at Trader Joe’s
Save this wine for your cocktail wine into your first course with arugula. It is not a wine that will take you through the entire meal.
Color: Magenta, hot pink rim
Aroma: Bramble fruit, rose petals, potpourri, as it opens up the nose is so nicely perfume. Florals and fruit come out nicely.
Palate: Dry yet juicy, earthy dusty earth, herbal almost minty on the back of the throat.
Pairing: Very vanilla with food. Almost too sweet for Gretel. Better as a cocktail wine. We will see how it goes with the rest of the food. It did go nicely with the arugula. It made the soufflé’s sweet enough to be a dessert. It was not good at all with the cassoulet.
2018 Domaine d’Andezon Les Vignerons d’Estézargues
Côtes du Rhône AOC
Blend 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache
sample for my review
Color: Cloudy seems unfiltered, dense plum, pink rose rim, opaque,
Aroma: Rose, potpourri, meaty, peppery, subtle blue fruit
Palate: Very nice and dry, this is not necessarily a cocktail wine. Fruity delicious and inviting. Juicy ripe blue fruit with a tart tanginess, fresh blue fruit, pepper finish, garigue texture.
Pairing: This juicy ripe wine is lovely with rich creamy triple cream brie (but what wine is not fantastic with that) but it did not work well the soufflé. The sausage in the cassoulet and the rich pate, brings out such rich fruit in the wine. It also works well with the spicy greens bringing out all of the earthy loveliness in the greens. The tomato umami works well with the wine.
2019 Domaine Les Aphillanthes Cuvée Les Galets
Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu AOC
Blend: 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Mourvèdre
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler; sample for my review
Lovely, lovely wine. This was one of our favorites of the evening. Wonderful wine for under $25.
Color: Is it ruby or is it purple? Consensus: ruby with a purple rim
Aroma: Floral lift, very expressive, florals and fruit, blue fruit, nice herbal, earthy, calmer notes, lovely soft nose, a bit of baking spice,
Palate: Fruit forward, lovely baking spices. Nice balance with great acidity. Your entire palate is completely engaged. Like a galette fruit and baking spices. eucalyptus, tannins up front with the fruit, mid chalkiness with fruit, eucalyptus and fruit on the finish.
Pairing: Fabulous with the mushroom brie. Lisa felt that the wine amps out the spice in the food. The wine becomes more earthen with the food. The wine adds pepper notes to the food elevating the spice. The wine was full of florals and fruit before food, with food there is an added layer of complexity. The arugula in the salad was a wow pairing, loving the spicy elements of the salad and enjoying the fruit in the wine.
This was the first wine I went for the following night! Not surprised we enjoyed it so much because as I’m researching this article I see it comes from certified Biodynamically-grown Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre which average 45 years in age and are hand-picked and sorted before a long, slow maceration and fermentation (~25 days).
Their devotion to biodynamics stems from researching homeopathic remedies for their son’s health issues. With 98-acres, Daniel and Hélène keep yields low and take a hands-off, minimalist approach to their winemaking in the cellar.
2018 Louis Bernard Rouge
Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC
Blend: 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah
sample for my review
Very solid wine for $14– what a great deal.
Color: Ruby, not quite garnet, garnet mauve rim, medium density
Aroma: Stewed fruit, loamy earth, bramble berry jam, pepper, cardamon, clove, tangerine pith,
Palate: Chalky, dry, tannins at the tip of the tongue, raspberry fruit lingers at the back of the palate. This is a very French wine that really yearns for food.
Pairing: With food this wine is a game changers. The chalky tannins go away and the bright fruit comes out. Fantastic with the cassoulet. The squash soufflé’s was a bit to sweet for the wine, but not horrible. Beautiful with the spicy arugula spinach salad loving the spice and the earth.
Xavier Vignon Arcane XIX Le Soleil 2015
Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC
Blend: Old vine 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre
Imported by Petit Pois; sample for my review
Big ass Bordeaux bottle for a Rhone wine.
Color: Red, red, blood red, “it is the color of my blood when I cut myself” said Sue
Aroma: Very subtle nose compared to what we have been tasting this evening. Leads with earth and florals, there is a bit of pine, herbs, understory pine duff, We had quite the discussion about the degree of pine. Fresh sawn pine. not pine tar but the wordiness of the pine. Maybe fir rather than pine. Pepper, roses and potpourri, rose on the nose, sandalwood, as it opens the wine changes and takes on more characteristics and nuances. Cocoa nibs and daisy pollen.
Palate: Full bodied with grippy tannins, for a 2015 it is very dry and has tons of tannins. The wine yearns for food. The tannins need to be tamed by cuisine.
Pairing: The spicy arugula worked well with the wine. Great with pate and triple cream brie. It loved the salt and richness of the cassoulet, also surprisingly well with the squash soufflé’s, both together fantastic.
What a great fall meal salad soufflé’s and this wine.
And once again, the mushroom brie and the wine together knocks your socks off. Gretel didn’t like it as well with the pate, but I liked it with the brie when it was mixed with pate.
Two nights later I paired several of these reds with a rib eye steak, and this wine was the winner.
Easy Instant Pot Cassoulet with Chicken, Bacon, Sausage
Note: try for no or low sodium ingredients.
- 10 slices Bacon
- 6 Chicken drumsticks, lightly salt and peppered
- 5 links sausages cut in bite sized chunks (we used garlic chicken and boar sausage; duck is recommended)
- 1 small Yellow Onion, chopped
- 2 stalks Celery, chopped
- 1/2 C Carrots, chopped
- 4 T Garlic, chopped
- 1 cup Dry white wine (we used a Côtes du Rhône of course!)
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2 T fresh Thyme, chopped
- 2 cups Chicken Broth
- 1 1/2 cups white beans (we used Navy)
- 2 T Tomato Paste
- 1 C Panko
- 2 T Italian Parsley
- 2 T butter, melted
- Preheat Instantpot on Saute with normal temperature.
- Chop bacon and cook in Pot until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel lined plate. Leave 4 T of drippings in Pot; reserve remainder.
- Arrange salted and peppered chicken drumsticks to cook until skin is brown, 8-10 minutes. Remove to paper towel.
- Add chopped vegetables to instant pot; saute until browned and softened.
- Add cut sausages to Pot and brown.
- Deglaze Pot with wine, liberating brown bits. Add bay leaves and thyme sprigs and cook until wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in broth, beans and tomato paste. Return 3/4 of bacon and all chicken to Pot. Close lid, lock, select the pressure cook setting on high temperature and cook 25 minutes.
- Let the Pot naturally release the steam slowly and open Pot. Check the beans for doneness.
- If the beans need more coking transfer the chicken from the Pot and keep warm. Select the Saute setting and cook beans if necessary 5-10 minutes longer.
- Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
- If you want a bread crumb crust, serve in ramekins or a large oven proof vessel.
- Melt butter, toss with parsley and Panko.
- Spread panko mixture on cassoulet. Broil to toast or bake for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees; also good for absorbing excess moisture or for cooking the beans longer.
We have lots of Côtes du Rhône content for you this month! And you’re welcome to check out our twitter chat by following the hashtag #Winophiles. Details follow.
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! thinks we should Embrace the Base of the Côtes du Rhône Pyramid.
- Cindy of Grape Experiences suggests we Sip Wine from the Côtes-du-Rhône… then Visit the Rhône Valley.
- Cathie of Side Wino Hustle says OMGigondas!
- Mel of Wining with Mel introduces us to The Wonderful World of Chapoutier in Côtes du Rhône.
- Terri of Our Good Life tells you What You Need to Know about Côtes du Rhône Wines.
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla is Assembling an End of Summer Cheeseboard with Domaine Chamfort Sablet La Pause Côtes du Rhône Villages 2019.
- Robin of Crushed Grapes Chronicles talks about Côtes du Rhône & Côtes du Rhône Villages – a plethora of flavors to pair with!
- David of Cooking Chat shares Grilled Sirloin Steak and Côtes du Rhône.
- Jen of Vino Travels takes us on A Journey Through the Cotes du Rhone.
- Jane of Always Ravenous shares Cote du Rhone Wines: Tasting and Pairing.
- Nicole of Somm’s Table says Bring on the Côtes du Rhône.
- Katrina of The Corkscrew Concierge explains Why You Should be Drinking White Rhône Wines.
- Linda of My Full Wine Glass introduces us to Red, White and Pink-The Colors of Côtes du Rhône Wine.
- Pinny of Chinese Food and Wine Pairings shares Côtes du Rhône and Perfect Fried Rice.
- Jill of L’Occasion is Feeling Satisfied with Côtes du Rhône.
- Susannah of Avvinare shares A Fresh Look at the Côtes du Rhône.
- Liz of What’s in That Bottle? declares Côtes du Rhône Offers Fancy, French & Affordalicious Wines.
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator…Gwendolyn Alley considers White, Red, Rosé? Côtes du Rhône Wines Paired with Squash Soufflé, Instant Pot Cassoulet.
- Payal of Keep the Peas discusses Everyday Wines from the Côtes du Rhône.
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares A Month’s Worth of Celebrations with Côtes du Rhône.
- Cathie says OMGigandas! on Side Hustle Wino with her explanation of various Rhone regions; note Gigandas is not considered part of the Cotes du Rhone.
Twitter chat discussion prompts and timing:
9/18/2021 8:00am Pacific
Welcome to the #Winophiles chat on Côtes du Rhône! Introduce yourself, and from where you are tweeting. Share a link to your blog if applicable. #CotesduRhône #CotesduRhôneVillages
9/18/2021 8:05am Pacific
Q1 So we are talking about the Côtes du Rhône, for today’s #Winophiles. Have you ever visited the region? Tell us what you thought. #CotesduRhône #CotesduRhôneVillages
9/18/2021 8:15am Pacific
Q2 Sitting in the Rhône Valley in eastern France, Côtes du Rhône is an appellation that applies to all colors of wine – from red to rosé to white wines. What did you pour? Share a link to your blog if you wrote on the topic today. #Winophiles #CotesduRhône #CotesduRhôneVillages
9/18/2021 8:20am Pacific
Q3 The Rhône Valley splits into two: North and South. The climates vary greatly, with the North experiencing severe winters + warm summers; the South has mild winters + hot summers. From which part was your wine? North or South? #Winophiles #CotesduRhône #CotesduRhôneVillages
9/18/2021 8:30am Pacific
Q4 Tell us something interesting about the wine or winery that you picked. Some of the group received samples from @RhoneWine. Merci beaucoup! Does anything notable stand out about your wine or winery? #Winophiles #CotesduRhône #CotesduRhôneVillages
9/18/2021 8:35am Pacific
Q5 What did you serve with your Côtes du Rhône wine? How did the pairing fare? How did the flavors in the food complement your wine? Share a link to your blog if you wrote on the topic today. #Winophiles #CotesduRhône #CotesduRhôneVillages
9/18/2021 8:45am Pacific
Q6 If you didn’t make any food for this month’s #Winophiles, what DID you pair with your Côtes du Rhône wines? Thinking of cheese pairings, perhaps. How did the flavors in the food complement your wine? #CotesduRhône #CotesduRhôneVillages
9/18/2021 8:50am Pacific
Q7 There are some interesting grapes being cultivated in the area. Did you try any: Bourboulenc, Brun Argenté (locally called Camarèse or Vaccarèse), Cinsaut, Clairette, Counoise, Piquepoul, Ugni blanc? What did you think? #Winophiles #CotesduRhône #CotesduRhôneVillages
9/18/2021 8:55am Pacific
Q8 #Winophiles Any final thoughts about Côtes du Rhône? Did you learn something new about the region, the wines, the food? Do tell! #CotesduRhône #CotesduRhôneVillages
9/18/2021 9:00am Pacific
Next month’s #winophiles theme is Julia Child meals + French wine hosted by Cindy of @GrapeExp_Cindy. Thanks to host @WendyKlik and sponsor @RhoneWine. Shoutout to bloggers who posted about Côtes du Rhône; find links to articles here https://wp.me/pj3XZ-89c . #CotesduRhône #CotesduRhôneVillages
I did find myself going back to the Louise Bernard (I had a bottle of that also). What a range of delicious wines! I don’t have an instant pot, but I might invest in one to try this cassoulet recipe this fall!
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Instant pots are great! So many lovely otherwise time consuming dishes that pair well with wines like these!
Love reading your detailed pairing notes for each dish and wine! The squash souffle sounds amazing.
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Thank you! And yes I’m hoping Sue will do that soufflé’s again to pair with merlot!
So many great pairing explanations in this post! I like how you pay attention to wine that elevates the food and food that allows the wine to shine. I also like the back story on Domaine Les Aphillanthes.
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Thank you! We do our best but yes there was A LOT of content to that post — a lot to cover!