The Rhone Valley of France, though known for its reds, produces some of the finest whites in the world. Cotes du Rhone blanc is a blend from the entire valley and the most affordable. As the production area or village gets more specific, the quality and complexity increase, and so does the price. The primary white grapes are viognier, marsanne, and roussanne. These wines are fun, funky, and fantastic—you’re going to find a favorite.
This month’s selections are available at Solo Vino, 517 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-602-9515.
Domaine de la Becassonne Cotes du Rhone 2005, $14.99
Roussanne, clairette, grenache blanc.
A bright wine with medium body and soft minerals on the finish. It’s light compared with others, but not at all thin. Grenache is the white cousin to the red grape of the same name. It adds complexity and body. Try this wine on its own or with herb-butter and chicken pasta.
Gaillard St. Joseph 2004 (St. Joseph, France), $27.99
St. Joseph identifies the town and wine—a full-bodied beauty with slate and honey on the nose. This wine has great fruit, some minerals, and a long, elegant finish. It’s worth every penny. Try it with onion-and-mushroom pizza or a good goat cheese.
Domaine de Piaugier Sablet 2004 (Sablet, France), $21.99
Viognier, roussanne, clairette, grenache blanc.
A true blend of some of the best grapes in the world. This wine has all the richness and body of its much more expensive neighbor, Hermitage blanc, but is not as “big.” Flavors include honey and cream with vanilla. Try it with a summer berry salad or a triple crème brie.
Chave Crozes–Hermitage 2004, $24.95
These vineyards are in the shadow of the hills of Hermitage. This wine has more earth than the St. Joseph, with plenty of minerals among the complex tropical fruit. Pair it with a hearty cheese or pork tenderloin with ginger.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.