Monday, January 24, 2011

Not All Rhônes are Red

I love red Rhône blends. They're zesty, spicy, and offer great value. Even wines from well-known appellations like Châteauneuf-du-Pape are relatively inexpensive when judged by the standards of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Most wine drinkers are not as well-acquainted with the delicious white blends that are made with Rhône varietals such as Grenache Blanc, Viognier, and Marsanne. These whites are classy, elegant, and provide a welcome break from the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc you might be drinking.

Rhône whites can be a bit pricey, in part because three quarters of the grapes grown in the region are red. But Rhône varietals are also grown in the US and in other parts of the world and can provide a good starting point if you want to learn more about these wines.

One great example of a Rhône white blend, for instance, is the 2008 Eberle Cotes-du-Robles Blanc from Paso Robles (suggested retail $24; available in the market for $20-$29). This delicious blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, and Viognier has aromas and flavors that are reminiscent of a summer day, with lots of pear, Golden Delicious apples, and even a touch of apricot. Rhône whites typically have herbal notes as well, and in this case I was reminded of the grassy and floral flavor profile of chamomile tea. Even though the price of the wine is slightly more than $20, it represents excellent QPR.

Like most wines made with Rhône grapes, the white blends are excellent food wines, too. I especially like Rhône white blends when I'm making a dish that uses lots of herbs and spices, where the aromatics in the wine enhance the food. We had this with amazing Salsa Verde Chicken with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings from Pam Anderson's Perfect One-Dish Dinners. This is an easy-to-prepare yet impressively tasty dish that has tomatillo and herb salsa--not the easiest thing to pair with a wine. Yet it was delicious with the white blend from Eberle.

If you are interested in learning more about check out the resources on the Hospice du Rhône website. And enjoy your adventures into the world of white wine made with Rhône grapes.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for review.

1 comment:

sam said...

ha! I love the subtle slam on white zin (the ultimate cheese), "soda pop" (snicker sneer).

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