Some of the world’s great wines come from France’s Rhône Valley, and often at relatively sane prices. Here are nine especially good values.
2005 Féraud-Brunel Côtes du Rhône Villages ($18)
This savory red comes from a joint venture between Laurence Féraud of Domaine du Pegau and André Brunel of Les Cailloux, two of Châteauneuf’s most renowned producers.
2007 Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône Blanc ($11)
The Perrin family of Châteauneuf-du-Pape fame started its Perrin Réserve line to focus on value bottlings from some of the less prestigious sections of the Rhône Valley. This white gets a melon note from a high percentage of Grenache Blanc in the blend.
2005 Domaine de Monpertuis Vignoble de la Ramière Cépage Counoise ($12)
Monpertuis owner Paul Jeune, who is probably best-known for his top-notch Châteauneuf-du-Pape, makes this luscious, berry-rich red from a single small vineyard, Vignoble de la Ramière, and a single obscure Rhône grape variety, Counoise.
2007 Louis Bernard Bonus Passus Côtes du Rhône ($12)
Louis Bernard, a well-known négociant brand now owned by the vast Boisset Family Estates, packages this spicy, Grenache-based red in PET plastic bottles—one of the first wine companies to make use of this lightweight, recyclable packaging material.
2006 Delas Saint-Esprit Côtes du Rhône ($13)
A blend of Syrah with small percentages of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignane, this red from a small vineyard in the value-focused Ardèche region is loaded with juicy raspberry and wild strawberry fruit.
2006 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc ($14)
Guigal has long been one of the most famous names in France’s Rhône Valley, and rightly so: Its top wines, like the La Landonne and La Turque Côte Rôties, are among the greatest in the world. Yet its less-expensive wines are superb, too—among them this crisp, white peach–inflected white.
2006 Layer Cake Côtes du Rhône ($16)
Napa Valley cult Cabernet producer Jayson Woodbridge makes a range of top-quality bargain reds under his Layer Cake label, each one from a different country. This cocoa-and-raspberry-scented bottling ends on gentle, velvety tannins.
2006 Domaine Oratoire St. Martin Côtes du Rhône ($19)
Frédéric and François Alary, the 10th generation of their family to farm grapes in the Rhône village of Cairanne, produce this earthy, generous red from Grenache and Syrah vines that they farm organically. There’s no aging in oak barrels, so the wine’s notes of wild berries and plums are clear and bright.
2006 Domaine Patrice Magni La Cueillette Côtes du Rhône ($20)
This family estate was founded in 1940. Its 35-year-old Grenache and Syrah vines, from vineyards just outside the border of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, provide the fruit for this richly fruity, ruby-colored wine.