Tag Archives: Rhone

ARCS Atlanta Fall Cocktail Party


Winzer Krems Grüner Veltliner Sandgrube 2012

Kremstal, Austria

Grüner Veltliner is a white wine grape from Austria. Don’t let the name throw you off — the wine made from Grüner Veltliner is easy to drink and very food friendly. Crisp and dry, this light to medium-bodied wine has bright citrus fruit flavors and subtle white pepper, with gentle wet stone minerality and refreshing acidity. A touch of spice lingers on the finish. Extremely versatile, Grüner Veltliner can pair with food ranging from shellfish and salads, to spicy dishes and Asian cuisine.

El Supremo Torrontes 2012

Mendoza, Argentina

As Malbec is considered the red wine grape of Argentina, Torrontes may be considered the white wine grape of the South American country. This is an extremely aromatic wine, with floral and citrus notes. El Supremo Torrontes has aromas of jasmine, gardenia and Meyer lemon, with crisp flavors of white grapefruit, white peach and subtle honeydew. Give the wine some time to warm in the glass and the floral notes will grow more vibrant.

Colombier Ventoux Rouge 2012

Côtes du Ventoux, Rhone, France

In the area surrounding Mont Ventoux, the Ventoux AOC in France’s Rhone region is one of Provence’s most picturesque areas. Perched villages, local markets, sunflowers, lavender and acres of vineyards have inspired artists, authors and vacationers. The Colombier Ventoux Rouge is a blend of Rhone grapes Grenache and Syrah. Medium-bodied and richly textured, this wine has aromas of ripe black fruit and flavors of blackberries, plum, pepper, black olives, rosemary and a hint of mint.

Sierra Batuco Reserva Carmenere 2011

Maule Valley, Chile

Carmenere is a red wine grape that is originally from Bordeaux. Today you’ll find it primarily in Chile, where it has become the country’s signature grape. Pepper and spice characteristics are what make Carmenere a treat to sip, and make the wine an ideal pairing for steak and grilled meats. The Sierra Batuco Reserva Carmenere is full-bodied with concentrated flavors of blackberry, black cherry, black and green pepper, smoke and a touch of mocha on the long, velvety finish.

Winzer Krems Gruner VeltlinerEl Supremo TorrontesColombier Ventoux RougeSierra Batuco Carmenere


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AG Pick: Chateau L’Ermitage Costières de Nîmes Blanc 2010

Spring is in bloom — and the perfect pairing is a floral white wine.

For crisp, refreshing white wines that have lovely floral flavors look to the south of France. Grapes from the Rhône region (most notably Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier) produce aromatic wines that can make you feel like you are sticking your nose into a bouquet of flowers, not just your glass.

Kick off spring with a bottle of Chateau L’Ermitage Costières de Nîmes Blanc 2010. Costières de Nîmes is an AOC in the southwestern part of the Rhône region surrounding the city of Nîmes.

The wine is a blend of 60% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc and 20% Viognier.

The Chateau L’Ermitage Blanc is a medium bodied white wine. Stone fruit and floral aromas expand on the palate, with supple flavors of white flowers, honeysuckle, peach, white apricot, golden pear and lychee. The finish is clean and satisfying.

Pair the Chateau L’Ermitage Blanc with halibut, sea bass and other white fish; salads, spicy Asian cuisine, or olive oil or cream-based pasta dishes. It’s also great as an aperitif for sipping on a warm spring afternoon.

A bottle of Chateau L’Ermitage Costières de Nîmes Blanc 2010 costs approximately $11.

13% alcohol by volume

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Festival of Wines in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

The Amateur Gastronomer spent the month of August in Provence, France.  This is the first in a series of articles on the region.

What better way to kick off a three week trip to Provence than by tasting wines in Châteauneuf-du-Pape?

Our first weekend in the south of France happened to coincide with Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s annual Fête de la Véraison, the festival of grape ripening.  For a weekend at the beginning of August the town is transformed into a medieval village to celebrate both its heritage and the upcoming harvest, complete with street performers, knights competing on horseback and of course, plenty of the famous local wine.

For its vast stretch of vineyards, the actual town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is fairly small.  Five narrow roads branch out from the main square, with ruins of the 14th century château keeping watch from above.  Even without the people in medieval costume it’s easy to imagine yourself stepping back in time, with the old tan and gray stone buildings and their weathered window shutters adding splashes of color.

My husband and I arrived just in time for the parade that kicked off the day’s festivities.  Dozens of people dressed up as noblemen, peasants and even a prisoner walked through the streets.  They were led by drummers and bagpipe players, with a group of donkeys bringing up the rear.

For 3€50 we purchased souvenir wine glasses that allowed us to taste wines from the numerous wineries that had booths along the streets, as well as at the wineries located within the town.

We started off slowly, tasting a few whites and reds while taking in the sights of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  We checked out medieval themed gifts, compared cheeses and saucissons, smelled soaps made in Marseille and somehow resisted the urge to buy nougat and marzipan.  We walked up to the château ruins for a great view of the surrounding vineyards and Mont Ventoux in the distance.  By mid afternoon I had lost track of how many wines we tried, though the half a dozen bottles we carried around helped us remember our favorites.

In contrast to our experiences in wine shops and restaurants back home, we found many wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape to be extremely affordable.  I almost didn’t trust my french when I heard that the delicious Syrah Grenache blend we were sipping cost only 5€ a bottle.

We quickly discovered this was the norm — during our three week visit we enjoyed many great bottles that cost between 5€ and 10€ from all of Provence’s wine regions.  I guess in Provence the saying ‘wine is cheaper than water’ is fairly accurate.

One of our favorite wineries in Châteauneuf-du-Pape was Domaine Comte de Lauze.  It is located right in town and is one of the few wineries that still does all the wine production there (the grapes grow in nearby fields).  The owner took me on a tour, showing me the large stainless steel fermenting tanks on the ground floor, then down a narrow staircase to show off the barrels in the cave below ground.

Comte de Lauze’s red — a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault — was rich and silky with flavors of black cherry, licorice and pepper.  At around 20€ it was on the more expensive side of the wines we tasted at the festival.  The winery also produces a nice Côtes du Rhône for 8€50.  It’s lighter in body and in color than the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with bright red fruit notes.

Like with many of the wines we enjoyed during our three weeks, you’ll be hard pressed to find these reds in the United States.  As the owners explained, Domaine Comte de Lauze doesn’t produce enough wine to export to the U.S.  But that’s part of the reason why you visit places like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, to discover special wines that you can’t get back home.

At the Fête de la Véraison there were not as many foreign tourists as I would have guessed, though I did hear English spoken when I least expected it — from one of the vineyard owners.  Doug Graves, owner and winemaker at Mas de la Lionne, came to France in 2008 from Washington State.  He kept the winery’s name, which goes back to the 1950s and a tale about an escaped circus lion that was said to live on the property.

Though literally across the street from Châteauneuf-du-Pape (a narrow road runs along the north side of the property), Mas de la Lionne is located in Sorgues, so the wines do not have a Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation.  As Doug explained, the terroir is similar and is expressed in the wines.

We tried the 2008 and 2009 Côtes du Rhône reds.  After tasting the two my husband was extremely surprised to find out they were 100% Grenache, which he usually does not like.  Both were upbeat and juicy with red cherry and strawberry flavors and a hint of spice on the finish.  We couldn’t decide which was our favorite so we bought one bottle of each.

With our lips stained and our hands full, we decided it was time to take our bounty home to our cottage near Gordes.  Only a couple of days in to our trip, we already had quite a wine collection.


Related Stories:
A Guide to Gordes
Ice Cream with a View
Photographs of Vineyards in Provence

AG Pick: Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles 2007

When you try this red wine from Jean-Luc Colombo you’ll be buzzing about it too!

Meaning “the bees,” Les Abeilles comes from France’s Southern Rhone Valley. It is a Grenache-based blend that is velvety smooth and easy to drink.

Balancing out the flavor and texture of the Grenache are Syrah and Mourvèdre which provide structure, finesse and zesty spice notes.

In the glass, the wine is intense ruby-purple in color and has seductive aromas of berries, black currants and bay leaf. On the palate are lush flavors of blackberries, boysenberries and plum, with herbal notes of rosemary and thyme. On the spicy finish is a hint of black pepper and licorice. Well-rounded tannins and bright acidity make for a delightful sip.

The fruitiness of Les Abeilles makes this wine enjoyable on its own, though it’s rich enough to pair with lamb, pork, duck and cured meats.

A bottle of the 2007 Jean-Luc Colombo Côtes du Rhône “Les Abeilles” costs $12.

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