11th January 2017

#Food & Drink

Wine, uncorked: Côtes du Rhône

11th January 2017

Côtes du Rhône, Saint-Esprit 2014 Delas


Every month, the fabulous Helena Nicklin, AKA the Wine Bird, uncorks a bottle of wine from our cellars and gives you a fuss-free low-down on what’s behind the label.


What does Côtes du Rhône mean?

The Rhône is a river that runs through the French wine region of the same name. ‘Côte’ means ‘bank’, so this wine was made with grapes grown on the banks of the Rhône river.


What’s AOC?

AOC stands for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (controlled name of origin). Having AOC on your label assures a certain level of quality. This is because to be able to use the term AOC, the producer has to adhere to strict winemaking processes and the grapes must come from specifically demarcated areas. It’s basically a pretty good way of making sure you’re not buying moonshine…

What’s the difference between Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône-Villages?

Quality. A straight Côtes du Rhône like this one is the first of four steps on the quality ladder. After this, it goes up a level to ‘Côtes du Rhône Villages’, then up one more to ‘Côtes du Rhônes Villages’ + named village (e.g. Séguret or Valréas). The top quality bottles are known as the ‘Cru’ wines and will generally be labelled solely with the name of their village (e.g. Condrieu or Saint-Joseph) and miss off the ‘Côtes du Rhônes Villages’ bit entirely.


Why is 2014 on the label?

Wine grapes are harvested once a year. The year printed on the label is the year the grapes that made the wine in the bottle were harvested. We call this year the ‘vintage’. When a wine is made with grapes and base wines blended from different years, the wine will be non-vintage (NV). In reality, most Non Vintage wines these days are sparkling wines.

A red Côtes du Rhône wine will be always be a blend of grapes. While many are allowed, the big three are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. You also get rosé and white Côtes du Rhône wines, though the whites use different grapes.


If a Côtes du Rhône red blend were a person…

…it would be a boy band, where each member has been carefully chosen for his qualities. First, there’s Grenache: the cute, approachable one. Think homemade strawberry jam dripping from a licorice spoon. Next up, there’s Syrah: he’s the complex, brooding type. Think of meat grilled with fresh herbs and pepper on a dark purple tablecloth strewn with violets. Finally, there’s Mourvedre: the party animal of the group. He’s a Pepperami in liquid form! Full-on and full-bodied, he’s juicy, unsubtle and savory but instantly likeable. Put them all together and you have a harmonious blend. That’s a ‘Vinalogy’!

What does it taste like?

A classic tasting note for a Côtes du Rhône could be ‘a medium to full-bodied blend of soft, ripe red and dark fruit with savory, meaty notes and hints of violet and pepper.’


What does this one taste like?

The Côtes du Rhône, Saint-Esprit 2014 from Delas is a Shakespearean feast in a glass! A little grilled meat cooked in herbs, softened by wild strawberry compote on the side and licorice treats to finish. Medium-bodied, easy-drinking, food friendly and delicious.


What do you eat with it?

Fabulous food matches for this wine include roast lamb or pork, sausages and mash with gravy, shepherd’s pie and steak and kidney pie. Mmmmm.


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