Ever since returning from my trip to France this past April, I’ve been paying special attention to wines from the Rhone Valley. This famous growing region, which I was lucky enough to devote a day of my trip to visit, is unique for its terroir. Soils are almost completely limestone rock and provide for an inimitable flavor profile in these Syrah blends. After a highly acclaimed 2009 vintage, it appears that the 2010s, which are just hitting the market now, may be even more spectacular. Unlike its French counterparts in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne, many of these delicious blends are widely available at bargain price points. One of the most recognizable producers in the region is M. Chapoutier, who creates wines that run the full gamut, ranging from $13 Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Russillon-Villages wines all the way up to $500 Ermitage, and everything in between. The quality, even at the bottom end of the spectrum, is consistent and merits attention from value seekers.

M. Chapoutier Cotes du Roussillon-Villages Les Vignes de Bila Haut 2010, 90 Points, $13, 50,000 cases made- Lovely cherry and wet mineral on the nose, with a touch of toasty oak. Juicy black cherry, plum cake and dark raspberry fruit flavors are floral and perfumey, if a touch tart. Intense and focused, layered with oak and exotic mineral spices, and lingering long on a rich chocolate note.


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