15 Côtes du Rhône Wines Under $15

15 Côtes du Rhône Wines Under $15Over the past several weeks, I’ve been sharing the wines I’ve explored from the Côtes du Rhône province and now it’s time to summarize the results.  To be apparent, I did mix some Côtes du Rhône with some Côtes du Rhône Villages in this summary.  If you don’t like that, too terrible.  My blog means my rules.  Seriously though, the difference between a wine with the “Villages” designation and those without is going to be subtle at best.  I didn’t reckon it was worthy of a break series.
For years I avoided French wines.  I knew there were excellent ones out there and I wanted to know more about them, but I was just intimidated by all the options.  I didn’t know a lot about the regions of France and the language barrier made it even worse.  But by focusing on a specific province and exploring it in depth, you can learn a lot about the wines from that area.  If you’re interested in French wine but don’t know a lot about them and have a limited budget, Côtes du Rhône is the perfect place for you to start.
For those of you new to French wines let me give you a quick overview of Côtes du Rhône.  It literally translates to mean “the hills of Rhone” and it refers to an appellation in the Rhone river valley in southern France.  The Côtes du Rhône appellation is spread across various areas in the southern and northern Rhone valley.  Some areas within this province have their own appellations which are considered superior to Côtes du Rhône, such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Côte Rôtie, Gigondas and Vacqueyras.  There is also an appellation named Côtes du Rhône Villages which is considered a step up in quality from the broader Côtes du Rhône appellation.
The wines from Côtes du Rhône are mostly red wines and typically blends.  In the northern Rhone, Syrah is usually the dominant variety in the blend, as Grenache is in the south.  There are several additional varieties also built-in in these blends such as Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, Terret Noir and others.  These are usually medium-bodied reds and easily pair with foods.
Of the 15 we tried, there were no total duds.  Most finished up with scores in the mid-eighties, some higher some lower.  In general, wines from Côtes du Rhône are going to be decent wines.
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Domaine Sainte-Eugénie – La Réserve

Domaine Sainte-Eugénie – La RéserveYou may have noticed that I haven’t updated this site in a link weeks.  A cold had me down—and not tasting wine—for a while, then with the holiday I just took a link extra days to recuperate.  I’m back, but I’m a small in the rear on my plotted tasting schedule.  I have a link more bottles of Sauvignon Blanc that I plot to taste and post reviews for in the next few days.  Until I can get to those, I have a random tasting to share with you, and it’s another French red blend—something I just can’t seem to get enough of lately. Read more

Domaine Mas Du Bouquet Côtes du Rhône

Domaine Mas Du Bouquet Côtes du RhôneThe Mas Du Bouquet vineyard, owned by the Manganelli family for over a century, consists of 45 hectares on the plateau Garrigues, just outside the village of Vacqueyras.  They are most known for their Vacqueyras appellation wines, but they also release this one with the Côtes du Rhône designation.
I really loved this wine as a fresh, fruit-filled wine.  The earthy characteristics found in many additional Côtes du Rhône wine are very subtle with this one.  But it is subdue an enjoyable and very affordable wine. Read more

Montirius Côtes du Rhône

Montirius Côtes du RhôneMontirius is a wonderful example of the values you can find from Côtes du Rhône wines.  They have been a family-owned estate for five generations, and as such have a lot of experience producing quality wine that reflects the traditions of the province.
While they’ve been producing wine for generations and used the knowledge passed down from one generation to another, they have also evolved their methods over the years to increase quality and sustainability.  Over the past twenty-some years they have eliminated the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  In 1999 they produced their first wine from biodynamically grown grapes.  They are now certified organic by Ecocert and certified biodynamic by Biodyvin.
Biodynamic farming is a step further than just organic.  It’s a more holistic approach to agriculture and involves treating the land as a self-nourishing system and employing techniques to encourage the symbiotic relationships between the soil, plants and living organisms.  It employs the use of composts and manure to provide natural nutrients and it even prescribes techniques based on the lunar calendar. It’s some new age stuff.
While Montirius employs these techniques in their vineyards, it appears that the grapes in this Côtes du Rhône don’t come from the Montirius vineyards, but rather from another biodynamic vineyard in the province and it’s vinified and bottled by Montrius. Read more

Domaine André Brunel Cuvée Sommelongue 2006

Domaine André Brunel Cuvée Sommelongue 2006It’s been a few days since I’ve posted, in fact it’s been a few days since I’ve been online.  Last weekend we had the remnants of hurricane Ike come through Cincinnati and brought 70 mph winds for several hours.  That left me and hundreds of thousands of additional folks without power all week.  What do you do when the power is out for days? Drink wine in the dark.
It’s back on now and it’s time for another review. Read more

Layer Cake Côtes du Rhône

Layer Cake Côtes du RhôneThere are a few things about Layer Cake Côtes du Rhône that you’ll notice are different from additional Côtes du Rhône wines.  The first thing you’ll notice is that the brand is more Americanized than others.  The name “Layer Cake” is much more contemporary than the names on most Côtes du Rhône wines and the mark is a contemporary design. Read more