French Wine Regions: The Rhône Valley
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Rhône Valley: Main Varietals
Rhône Valley Bargain Bottles
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the southern Rhône's most prized (and pricey) wine. But many estates also make good value wines, like the 2009 Perrin & Fils Côtes du Rhône Villages ($15), from Château Beaucastel's owners, and the 2009 Selection Laurence Feraud Côtes du Rhône ($13) from Domaine du Pegau.
Three Great Rhône Valley Regions
2008 Domaine Santa Duc Cuvée Tradition ($43) The 2008 vintage was weak in the Rhône, but top producers like Santa Duc still made remarkable wines. This Grenache-based red is darkly spicy, with a sweet, peppery finish.
2009 Domaine Roger Sabon Les Olivets ($45) Luscious, dark cherry and herb notes fill this substantial red, from a domaine whose history reaches back to the 1500s.
2007 Domaine Michel & Stéphane Ogier ($70) Until 1980, Michel Ogier sold all of his grapes to the well-known firm of E. Guigal; now his son Stéphane runs the family estate, producing perfumed, complex Côte-Rôties like this one.
Rhône Valley: Tiny Appellation, Big Money
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The second-richest man in France bought one of the smallest wine appellations in France this year—the entire thing. François Pinault purchased Château Grillet, a single château on 8.5 acres of land that is also an appellation unto itself. Grillet's legendary white wine sells for about $125 a bottle. But there are affordable and very good white wines from less famous places in the Rhône, mostly in the south. Try the 2010 Château D'Aqueria Lirac Blanc ($17), a Grenache Blanc blend with a honeysuckle scent.