Hello friends. I’m not sure which is more confusing: Cotes du Rhone, or Cotes du Rhone Villages. With CdR, the confusion stems from breadth. A CdR can come from a broad swath of the Rhone Valley. It can be mostly Grenache (often), mostly Syrah (sometimes), mostly Mourvedre (rarely). Quality is all over the map.
Then there’s CdR Villages. Wines can just be labeled Cotes du Rhone Villages, which means they come from land generally considered to be a step up from Cotes du Rhone. Another step up the ladder, there are the Cotes du Rhone Villages that have a named village appended. This both increases and reduces confusion. Increases because there are a full *eighteen* named villages currently allowed, and, I mean, really, I can barely remember what I did eighteen minutes ago. And decreases because it drastically narrows the piece of land that we’re looking at, and we can start to identify which villages are more interesting than others.
One of the most recently added villages is Massif d’Uchaux, and it’s also one of the most compelling. Why? Because it’s as close a named village as we have to Chateauneuf-du-Pape. So today we present a Massif d’Uchaux from the lovely 2010 vintage, a veritable baby Chateauneuf:
This was one of those wines where I tasted it, loved it, and then had to scramble for the research to understand why it’s as good as it is. Now that I understand Massif d’Uchaux’s location (right here, just north of Chateauneuf-du-Pape), it begins to make sense.
It was also one of those situations where we had to make a go/no-go decision quickly. The importer was down to the last parcel of 2010 (a heralded vintage), about to roll into the (less heralded) 2011. Obviously, since you’re reading this, the decision was “go.” We grabbed the entire remainder of the 2010, so this is now sold out in western Washington. It was a large enough parcel for an offer, but only barely.
Renjarde (specifically located here) has its roots in Chataeuneuf. It is owned by the Richard family, proprietors of the outstanding Chateauneuf producer Chateau La Nerthe, as well as Prieure de Montezargues in Tavel. The vineyard is more than 40 years old, majority Grenache rounded out with Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignan.
In 2010, the blend is 55% Grenache, 23% Syrah, 12% Carignan, and 10% Cinsault, and it was fermented and aged in a combination of concrete and stainless steel, so there’s no oak influence here whatsoever. It presents a lovely, swirling stew of brambly raspberry fruit, hot rock minerality, rose petals, and dusty garrigue. And if you think that profile sounds very much like Chateauneuf-du-Pape, you would be correct. It’s an old saw in the wine trade that confusion breeds value. Let’s give thanks today, then, that CdR Villages is as confusing as it is, because this is a terrific value.
Please limit order requests to 6 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.