Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

Hello Prince Albert! As wine drinkers, we are always on the hunt for a new grape varietal or a new wine-producing area to discover and explore. I recently started tasting wines from a region in France called Cotes du Rousillon and the flavors I discovered were delicious at every price point.

The Cotes du Rousillon is often appended as Languedoc-Rousillon which encompasses a huge area but the most common wines will say Cotes du Rousillon, Cotes du Rousillon-Villages (which come from them upper tier of the region) or Cotes du Rousillon Les Aspres for higher quality wines from the south.

This area can be confusing at first as it doesn’t have Grand Crus or Premier Crus like Bordeaux and the stylistic differences of the wines change as you go from North to South. The wine, food and culture furthest to the South is more akin to the culture in Spain which is mere miles away from the southern Rousillon but the grapes that are used are more comparable to the Cotes du Rhone.

Speaking of grapes, the Rousillon wines borrow their winemaking style from Spain and the Cotes du Rhone with blends made primarily of Grenache, Mouvedre, Syrah, Macabeo, Muscat and Carignan. Since the area is quite hot, the grapes here ripen well and thick-skinned grapes achieve great success in developing rich, mature fruit which is ideal for making full-bodied wines.

The wines of the Cotes du Rousillon are mostly full-bodied but lighter examples can still be found like the Domaine de Rombeau (the entry level options from the brand) which have an IGP of Cotes de Catalines. That being said, many of the wines (like the two featured in this article) achieve high levels of alcohol often reaching or exceeding 14.5 to 15 percent. If you happen to be looking for red wines to keep you warm during the winter then these wines would be suitable options.

Take a look through the French and Premium sections of your local liquor stores and you will be able to find several excellent choices from the Rousillon. The Chapoutier brand has two Cotes du Rousillon-Villages options with specific areas listed on the bottle (Latour and L’Esquerda) while Chateau Rombeau has several options as well including the two in this article, their affordable blend simply called “Le Rouge” and their higher-priced offering “PHI”. Prices will run from $22 up to $70 for these wines.

What I found most impressive about this region is the affordability versus the quality. It isn’t always easy to find rich, full bodied, intense wines for a decent price but that’s what this area offers. It’s a great feeling to sip on a $25 wine that tastes like a $40 bottle and for that reason I recommend checking out the wines from this area of France. Here are my wine picks of the week!

Chateau Rombeau L’Elevee 2016: (Cotes du Rousillon-Villages, France). Off-dry red, deep purple color. The nose is packed full of rich, cooked dark fruit (blackberry/blackcurrant), cassis, plum, balsamic cherry, black forest cake and cocoa. A rush of intense and full-bodied flavor hits the palate along with firm but smooth tannins. There is plenty of dark fruit to savor including stewed plum, dark cherry and blackberry as well as some oaky tones on the medium finish. Caramel, pepper and sweet fruit linger. Medium-plus acidity gives this red some pop and prevents it from tasting flabby. Excellent value! Very good! $28, 15% ABV

Chateau Rombeau Elise 2014: (Cotes du Rousillon, France). Dry red, deep purple color. The bouquet opens with fruit-forward scents of red/black grapes, cassis, concord grapes, red/black currants and hints of rich pepper. High intensity on the palate with flavors of mature dark fruit adequately backed by fine oak highlights. Boysenberry, blackberry, brambleberry and complex spice all intertwine to create a silky texture and depth of flavor. High but sweet tannins provide excellent structure and sweet earthy bitterness from high-quality oak provides a long finish. Toasted oak, black pepper and caramel remain on the tongue for several minutes. Pair with juicy grilled meats or roasts. Very good! $50, 15% ABV

Edit: A few weeks ago I wrote that Rebellion Brewing won Gold for Best Beer in Canada but the beer actually won Gold for best Belgian Sour Beer in Canada. Apologies for the mistake.

Cheers and thanks for reading!