Comforting red wines for troubled times | Wine

Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Villages, France 2020 (£9.50, Tesco) It’s one of life’s happiest coincidences that the style of red wine I like to drink the most as the nights approach and the bills bite also offers one of the best value -price. Fine examples of red wines from the Rhône Valley of southern France that will leave you with the change of a dime are relatively easy to find in supermarkets. And with their combination of hedgerow fruit, peppery spice and meaty, herbal flavors, ready for a wintry stew, they seem perfectly primed for days of swirling leaves and bonfire smoke. Tesco currently offers a neat set of three Côtes du Rhône wines at a reasonable price. Palais St Vigni Côtes du Rhône 2021 is a simple but beautifully juicy and spicy package for just £5; Tesco Finest Signargues Côtes du Rhône Villages 2021 (£8) adds considerable depth of inky blackberry and licorice; while Michel Chapoutier is exceptionally polished, dark-fruited and complex for its sub-£10 price tag.

Famille Perrin Ventoux Rouge, France 2021 (£9.99 or £8.99 as part of a six-bottle mixed case, As always in French regions, there is a strict official hierarchy in the Rhône depending on the sub-region, village or vineyard in which the vines are located. The idea is that the quality and distinction of local character improves as you move from the largest unit, Côtes du Rhône, which may be a blend of grapes from across the region, through the Côtes du Rhône Villages , then to named villages and appellations, the latter including star names like Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the south of the valley near Avignon and Côte-Rôtie, closer to Lyon to the north. Some of the best Rhone wines I’ve tried recently come from appellations that lie at the geographical limits of the Rhone region. Aldi’s 2021 Chassaux et Fils Costières de Nîmes, for example, comes from an appellation that is the bridge between the Rhône and Languedoc and is packed with satisfying dark fruit and spice that belies its £5.79 price tag, while the Ventoux from Famille Perrin, from vineyards around the legendary cycle climb, is brightly fruity with raspberry and blackberry.

Domaine Lombard ‘Monicault’ Red, Brezeme, Rhone, France 2020 (£17.95, The Rhone Valley is very clearly divided into two halves. In the little north of the Rhône, with its vineyards shared by eight appellations (two of which are exclusively for white) following the wide sweep of the Rhône south for about 40 miles from Vienne to Valence, red wines are made from the Syrah grape. (with an occasional seasoning of white Viognier). In the much larger southern Rhône, which begins around Montélimar, 50 km south of Valence, it is almost always blends of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and others. Aymeric Paillard Petit Père St-Joseph 2019 (£42, is a treat of an example of the blend of floral flavors, freshly ground pepper, crisp black raspberry and bloody meat found in the best northern Rhône Syrah, while Famille Brunier Telegram Châteauneuf-du- Pope 2019 (£36, is a robust, plum, garrigue and herbal, yet polished and sunny southern Rhône blend. The Monicault from Domaine Lombard, meanwhile, with its intense but fluid succulence, infused with pepper, black raspberry and blackberry, comes from the unusual southern village of Brézème, a specialist in 100% Syrah, which gives it a signature stylistic straddling the north-south divide.

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