Wednesday, September 15, 2021

A Month Long Exploration of the Wines of Cotes du Rhone #Winophiles

I am very pleased to be able to host our French Winophiles group this month as we explore the wines of Cotes du Rhone.  Our administrator, Jeff of Food Wine Click, was able to procure some of us samples with help from Teuwen Communications, through the generosity of our sponsor, Cotes du Rhone.  All thoughts and opinions written in this article are strictly my own.  I received no monetary compensation for this post.

bottles of wine

I received 6 bottles of wine from Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Villages. Cotes du Rhone comprises 2 main appelations with those designated Villages having a higher level of classification.  This is due to the quality of the terroir in which the grapes are grown.

This does not necessarily mean that the Cotes du Rhone Villages are always better than other Cotes du Rhone wines.   There are some wonderful and affordable Cotes du Rhone and, of course, your own palate will help you to decide which wines are right for you.

I am going to help you all I can by sharing my thoughts on each of the wines that I was sent along with the food pairings I chose for them.  All of my fellow Winophiles are also tasting and pairing wines from the Cotes du Rhone region and will be posting their thoughts as well.  You will find links to their articles at the bottom of this post.

Once we have completed our tasting, testing and pairing we will be gathering for Twitter Chat on Saturday, August 18th, at 11 AM ET.  You are welcome to join us so mark it on your calendar.   You will find us by following #Winophiles.

Chat Fou Wine

The first bottle I opened was the 2019 Chat Fou Cotes du Rhone made by winemaker Eric Texier of St-Julien-en-St-Alban vineyard and is named after one of his cats.  The name translates to Crazy Cat and is reported to be quite crazy.  This wine is crazy too.  Crazy good.

We had a huge storm come through our area and many residents were without power for a few days.  Thankfully, we have a whole house generator that kicks in when power goes out.  I was lying in bed reading when the lights went out, the generator kicked on and life went back to normal in our house.  The next morning when I awoke I found the generator still working and my neighbors were without power.  

I went to work the Food Pantry, which luckily wasn't affected and when I came home, several hours later, the generator was still hard at work.  Frank called the neighbors and invited them over to get into the pool and cool off as the temps were smoldering in the 90+ F category.  

Wine with appetizers

While he called them I put the wine into a bucket of ice as it is to be served slightly chilled.  I put together a tray with crackers and a cheese dip made with my jalapeno peach jam, some mixed nuts and some shrimp and cocktail sauce.  

The neighbors arrived with their suits and their phones that needed to be charged.   We poured this wine and took a sniff. Spice and berries on the nose, ruby red in color, dry and slightly peppery.  It is a lovely, casual wine that was perfect to sip poolside in the heat and paired very nicely with the appetizers.

Rose wine

The following evening I opened the bottle of 2020 Bellissime Rose Cotes du Rhone.   I took the shrimp that was leftover from the shrimp cocktail and tossed it  with pasta that I dressed in a quick and easy sauce of tomatoes and zucchini.

Pasta and Wine

The pairing was very nice.  I sipped the wine while I was making the sauce using some lonely zucchini and tomatoes that had been languishing on my counter.  I tossed them with an olive oil and butter blend, seasoned with lots of garlic and some Italian herbs while waiting for the pasta to cook.  I added the shrimp at the last moment, right before the pasta.  Plated it and added plenty of shredded Parmesan cheese.  

This winery has been in the same family for 5 generations and is now run by Alain Jaume.  This rose is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre.  It is bone dry but light and crisp.  It pours a beautiful light salmon color with a tinge of orange to it.  It, too, had a slightly peppery taste....I'm beginning to see a trend here...... 

Viognier Wine

That theory about the peppery taste?  It was quashed when I opened up the third bottle, a 2019 Chateau Beauchene Blanc Cotes du Rhone.  This 100% Viognier is soft, round and smooth.  It pours a light, clear yellow and smells of stone fruit.  This wine is aged in oak barrels but did not taste "oaky" at all.

Alfredo and wine

This wine was hearty enough to stand up to the Chicken Alfredo that I made for dinner one night.  The Bernard family, owners of Chateau Beauchene have been making wine since the 17th century.  It shows in the wonderful quality of this wine, a great value at less than $20 per bottle.

Ribs and Wine

I opened the first Red wine from the Cotes du Rhone Villages when we had an outdoor gathering with family and friends over Labor Day Weekend.  This bottle of Inopia Cotes du Rhone Villages is a blend of reds but mainly Grenache.  I love Grenache and I loved this wine.  It is everything I look for in a red wine.  Delicious to sip on its own and also food friendly and strong enough to stand up to smoked ribs.

Inopia translates as "made from nothing" in Latin.  Owners, Rotem and Mounir Saouma, named it such after taking a neglected barren plot and planting it with a variety of grapes including Grenache, Mourvèdre, Counoise, Syrah, and Cinsault.  The result is this wine that proves what dedication and hard work can accomplish.


I next opened the Xavier Vignon Arcane XIX Le Soleil 2015.  I was making a Pierogi Shepherd's Pie for dinner one night and decided to open this wine since one of the tasting notes recommendations was a "hearty casserole".  

dinner plate and wine

Well, actually, as I was making the casserole, Frank photographed and opened the wine.  When he was done and the wine was poured he brought me in a glass and said "taste this".  I did, as he watched me to see my reaction.  Another Grenache blend this wine is super deep and complex, very smooth and full bodied.  I took that sip and Frank immediately said "isn't that a nice wine?"  I agreed and wondered if I should have paired it with something a little classier.  But sometimes a casual food and a nice wine are a perfect pairing, and it certainly was true in this case.

Charcuterie and Wine

I began and ended my journey exploring the wines of Cotes du Rhone with appetizer trays.  The final bottle provided was another Granache blended with Syrah from Louis Bernard.  This wine is an amazing value at less than $15.  

I opened this wine one evening after we had gone out for a late lunch of Mexican Food and Margaritas.  Needless to say, when I got home, I curled up on the couch with my book and dinner was the last thing on my mind.  When we finally started getting hungry, about 8 pm, I opened the refrigerator and decided to make a charcuterie platter.  

I had some brie that I laid on top of a fig spread, a couple of other cheeses, some nuts, soprasetta, and some red pears I had picked up from the farmer's market.  I sliced up a baguette, poured the wine and dinner was served.  I love having these kinds of dinners once in a while.  

The Teen was at a friend's and Frank and I reconnected as we sipped wine and enjoyed each other's company.  This kind of meal reminds me of when we were dating and would head up north where evenings were often spent sipping wine and snacking on whatever the winery had in their cooler for us to take back to our room.

As mentioned above, we are all going to get together on Saturday, August 18, at 11 AM ET to chat some more about these amazing wines from Cotes du Rhone.  We would love for you to join in the discussion.  You will find us by following #Winophiles.  My friend, Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, will be leading the talk as I will be on the road traveling home from a conference.  Here are some of the topics you can expect........


  1. Thanks for hosting! You are good neighbors!

  2. Thanks for hosting. I'm a little jealous that you got a bottle of Chat Fou -- it is indeed crazy good! I still have a bottle of the Xavier Vignon Arcane XIX Le Soleil left and now I'm very excited to try it. I also love the idea of your Pierogi Shepherd's Pie!

    1. Thanks Nicole. The Chat Fou was a happy accident to be opened as my first bottle.

  3. Thank you for hosting, Wendy. The Bellissime with the shrimp and pasta sounds like just what I need as I'm trying to hold on to the sliver of summer. Not ready for autumn yet!

  4. What an amazing array of wines and pairings! It certainly does seem like you can't go wrong with a cellar (or shelf) of Cotes du Rhone in the house! I love the idea of that Viognier with the Alfredo! Yum!

  5. Love the stories throughout this post, Wendy, especially the one about the power outage and ad-hoc pool party for neighbors at your house. Putting that Cotes du Rhone to good use!


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