Domaine “La Garrigue” 2008 Cuvee Romaine Cotes Du Rhone
You may have noticed that French wines seldom identify the grape variety on the label. So instead of seeing Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot or Viognier, you’ll see Burgundy, Bordeaux or a long list of others. These names describe an AOC ( Appellation d'Origine Contrl￩e ) which defines the varieties of grape that are permitted to go into a wine of whatever name. If you are new to wine this confuses things greatly. You are just learning about what kinds of grapes you like and here is a whole nation of wines that don’t even tell you what they are. Take a deep breath. Relax. Like any wine proposition, do a little research, identify good representations of the variety or AOC as the case may be, try some, and decide what you like. Don’t let anyone tell you what a good wine is supposed to be. You know what you like. Find it and drink it. If it happens to be Beaujolais nouveau, keep it to yourself.
Cotes Du Rhone reds are typically made up of Grenache Noir, Syrah and Mourvedre, but may have any of 18 other varieties, many of which you have never heard of. These wines are typically full bodied with rich but smooth tannins. These are among my favorite French red wines because they typically offer nice complexity, reasonably full bodies and typically can be had for affordable prices. In other words, you can get something that doesn’t hit you over the head with a single flavor or impression, kind of makes you think about it a bit, and usually pairs well with foods I like.
The La Garrigue doesn’t disappoint. I drank this without decanting, and it is a reasonably complex wine with some nice fruit (raspberry, cherry and red licorice). It is not super full, and has some subtle earth and maybe a little tobacco. The wine is not overly acidic and has smooth tannins. Grapes come from 60-90 year old vines (!). This would pair nicely with roasted meats or just about anything from the grill. This is a pretty nice representation of a Cotes Du Rhone (even if previous years were reviewed better) and a solid pick for under $15. For the Cotes Du Rhone AOC, I’d give it a 90- I’d like to see just a little more fullness. Overall I’d give this wine a 91; you can (and I have many times) do far worse for your money.