2016 Domaine De La Guicharde “Cuvée Genest” Massif d’Uchaux, Rhône, France (Alcohol 14.5%) Small Winemakers $22.20 (750ml bottle)
Last week I opened this wine from Domaine De La Guicharde and was reminded of why I have such a fondness for well-crafted Côtes du Rhône. My continued affection comes from a very simple place; there are very few appellations that bring me such vinous pleasure at such an approachable price point. Sure, there’s a whole load of mediocre juice out there that sneaks in under the CDR appellation, but if one perseveres I can assure you that there are some absolute gems out there, and I count this bottling as one of those.
Now, that being said, this isn’t really a Côtes Du Rhône any longer, as in 2005 the sub-region of Massif d’Uchaux was recognised for the superior quality of its wines and was granted its own appellation, hence the designation on the bottle (and my inverted commas in the title).
This biodynamically-produced wine is a traditional blend of old vine Syrah and Grenache that’s given 18 months of élevage before bottling, and perhaps that’s one of the factors that make this wine so complete, especially for a wine at under $23.
The bouquet is a unique amalgam of ultra-ripe black and red berry fruits (think brambles and raspberries), braised fennel, crushed rosemary, dusty woodsmoke, and sun-baked underbrush. It’s very attractive indeed.
Although the 14.5% alcohol may scare some, it fits perfectly well in this particular cuvée. Despite the perceived sweetness from the ripe berries, this is a decidedly savoury wine that dips slightly towards the saline at the back of the palate. The tannins are nice and chewy, just the way I like them in this style of wine. All that fruit ripeness is tempered by some admirable acidity, especially for this part of the world.
It’s a really beautiful little wine, that will pair well with all manner of grilled meats; for me it worked wonders with some barbecued Merguez sausages served with mixed beans cooked with garlic and dandelions.
(Four and a half apples out of a possible five)
Domaine De La Guicharde are represented in Ontario by The Small Winemakers Collection.
The Small Winemakers Collection/Andrew Peller are Good Food Fighters.
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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he really enjoyed that sample bottle.