Rhone – moan and paean.


Two white Rhones, tasted a week apart – and what a difference.

First was from the Wine Society’s (our favourite buying source) Exhibition range, a 2006 Hermitage from Chave, the renowned Rhone wine-maker. Colour and nose were spot on – clear lemon yellow, some viscosity; citrus nose with a rich, almost beeswax notes. But the palate was really disappointing. Dry, unforgiving, hollow and disappearing rather quickly. It seemed to be lacking in any quality. This was tasted blind and, to be honest, we thought a poor reflection on the WS and one of the region’s reputed top wines. At £35 it was a steal – from the customer.

This Sunday, we tried another WS offering – Domaine Saint Prefert 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape white (13.5% ABV), retailing at £30. This wine is a blend of 85% old vine Clairette, red (gris?) and white, and 15% Rousanne. The research tells me that Clairette is a grape, declining in popularity, that adds crispness to a blend whilst the fussy Rousanne gives the aroma. Neither grape seems easy to manage but the result, in this wine, was spectacular.  A lovely full lemon yellow in colour it had a fresh, ripe melon nose that was always inviting. The palate was rich, with an almost oily weight but cut with wonderful acidity which kept it refreshing. The really long finish was dry and clean which confirmed a well-balanced, classy wine – one we could happily sip all evening. But, unfortunately, I had to leave it for Angie and Richard to enjoy. It was his wine, after all.

I’d just tweeted about how the name of Chateauneuf du Pape had been spoiled by poor quality reds for some time. This wine made me drink my words – but the criticism of the reds is still valid until proved otherwise.

[Richard:  unforgiving is certainly le mot juste to describe the Hermitage although it did improve when decanted and was at near room temperature. Mixed reviews on the WS website – they’ve moved on to another vintage now – and we were definitely in the ‘anti’ camp. The DSP was a lovely wine and far better value. Only one bottle – part of a white Rhone mixed case – but a maker to look out for. Edit – the purchase price of the Hermitage has been refunded. Well done WS.]


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