15 Delightful Rhône Values
New reviews of affordable reds and whites from France
Tasting Highlights bring the best wines from our editors’ most recent tastings to WineSpectator.com members.
Neither 2013 nor 2014 will go down in history as great vintages in the Rhône Valley, though the region managed to turn out numerous excellent wines while other regions in France foundered. That effort extends through the value-priced offerings, as demonstrated by these 15 new releases.
Lirac is located just across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape and is blessed with stony and pebbly soils similar to those of its better-known neighbors, but with markedly less expensive land prices and wines. The white from Famille Bréchet, owners of Château Vaudieu in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is a delight, offering textbook white Rhône flavors of flowers and orchard fruits.
Rodolphe de Pins’ Château de Montfaucon is also in Lirac, and this vigneron continues to cobble together small parcels of old-vine varieties for his various blends. His Comtesse Madeleine bottling combines Viognier, Marsanne, Picpoul and Bourboulenc. The white from Domaine de la Mordorée is also lovely, offering another testament to the skills of the late Christophe Delorme.
Located just between the Northern Rhône and southern Beaujolais, Éric Texier’s property always manages to produce intriguing wines. His Roussanne bottling is a delight.
Influential consulting winemaker Philippe Cambie checks in with his Domaine Calendal, a ripe, fruit-driven red that shows good stuffing for the vintage. And there’s plenty more to choose from here, including excellent values from big-name producers such as Chapoutier, Domaine de la Janasse and André Brunel of Les Cailloux fame.
Keep an eye out for my annual tasting report on the Rhône Valley in the upcoming Nov. 30 issue of Wine Spectator.
FAMILLE BRÉCHET Lirac White Plateau des Chênes 2014 Score: 90 | $24
Very racy in feel, with jasmine, citrus oil and white peach notes, carried by a stony edge. The long, fresh finish echoes with a hint of yellow apple skin. Drink now. 300 cases imported.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU DE MONTFAUCON Côtes du Rhône White Comtesse Madeleine 2014 Score: 90 | $22
This offers a delicious, unctuous mix of apricot, anise, peach and melon flavors, backed by light almond and brioche notes. A good juicy edge keeps this energetic. Drink now. 100 cases imported.—J.M.
DOMAINE DE LA MORDORÉE Lirac White La Reine des Bois 2014 Score: 90 | $40
Lively, with enticing yellow apple, melon rind and white peach flavors, liberally laced with honeysuckle and quinine notes. Energetic finish. Drink now. 30 cases imported.—J.M.
ST.-COSME Côtes du Rhône White 2014 Score: 90 | $23
A broad, ripe style, with apricot, nectarine and tangerine flavors, liberally lined with toasted almond and warmed brioche notes. The ample underlying zip keeps this honest, revealing a lingering hint of salted butter. Drink now. 147 cases imported.—J.M.
ÉRIC TEXIER Roussanne Côtes du Rhône Brézème 2014 Score: 90 | $31
Offers an alluring, creamy feel, with tasty apricot, nectarine and orange blossom notes. Reveals an almond tinge on the finish. A flattering style. Drink now. 250 cases made.—J.M.
DOMAINE CALENDAL Côtes du Rhône-Villages Plan de Dieu 2013 Score: 89 | $29
Stylish, with black tea and cinnamon notes gliding around a core of lightly steeped plum and anise flavors. The long, silky finish lets the spice hint linger. Drink now. 300 cases imported.—J.M.
DOMAINE DE LA JANASSE Côtes du Rhône White 2014 Score: 89 | $21
Ripe and racy, with a bright fennel edge lifting the core of apricot, white peach and yellow apple fruit. A twinge of bitter almond echoes on the finish. Drink now. 335 cases imported.—J.M.
CHÂTEAU PESQUIÉ Vin de France Terrasses White 2014 Score: 89 | $14
Very juicy in feel, with lots of pineapple, white peach, star fruit and yellow apple flavors bouncing along. A bright floral edge frames the pure finish. Viognier, Roussanne and Clairette. Drink now. 385 cases imported.—J.M.
DOMAINE ROCHE Côtes du Rhône-Villages Cairanne 2013 Score: 89 | $20
Direct, with a tasty beam of steeped plum and blackberry fruit, lined with subtle anise and singed juniper notes. A lightly woodsy tug holds the finish. Drink now. 450 cases imported.—J.M.
ÉRIC TEXIER Côtes du Rhône White Adèle 2014 Score: 89 | $19
Very fresh, with deliciously pure creamed melon and yellow apple fruit flavors that race along, highlighted by honeysuckle and heather notes. Drink now. 500 cases made.—J.M.
PIERRE AMADIEU Côtes du Rhône-Villages Cairanne Les Hautes Rives 2014 Score: 88 | $22
Ripe and fresh, with succulent plum and raspberry fruit flavors, held together by a racy graphite edge. A licorice snap note emerges on the finish. A solid version. Drink now. 400 cases imported.—J.M.
ANDRÉ BRUNEL Côtes du Rhône White Domaine de la Becassonne 2014 Score: 88 | $19
A fresh style, with a blanched almond frame around the apple, fennel and white peach flavors. Sleek finish. Drink now. 800 cases imported.—J.M.
DOMAINE DE LA JANASSE Côtes du Rhône-Villages Terre d’Argile 2013 Score: 88 | $25
This has a slightly soft, plump feel, with plum sauce and raspberry coulis notes that glide along, carried by melted red licorice and warmed fruitcake hints. A crowd-pleaser. Drink now. 1,200 cases imported.—J.M.
DOMAINE PÉLAQUIÉ Côtes du Rhône White 2014 Score: 88 | $13
A floral, racy style, with good cut to the edges. A core of star fruit, fennel and white peach flavors bounces along. Drink now. 1,000 cases made.—J.M.
M. CHAPOUTIER Côtes du Rhône White Belleruche 2014 Score: 87 | $16
Juicy, with anise, yellow apple and pineapple fruit flavors bouncing along. Stays lively through the finish. Drink now. 40,000 cases made. —J.M.