2009 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve

This wine is the equivalent of a long time friend. We can not talk for ages but once we do we can pick up right where we left off. Made by the Perrin brothers, the owners of the famed Chateau de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Southern Rhone (and involved more locally with Tablas Creek) this has long been on of my go to wines. That said this was my first experience with the 2009, what did I find?

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Vineyard Brands

What They Said:

2009 Perrin Cotes du Rhone ReservePer wine.com “A sensational bargain, the 2009 Perrin et Fils Cotes du Rhone Reserve red is composed of 60% Grenache (from the estate vineyards at Prebois), 20% Syrah (from the estate vineyards in Vinsobres), and 20% Mourvedre. It offers lots of black cherry fruit, underbrush, licorice, pepper, and spice notes in a medium-bodied, richly fruity style with no hard edges. Their 2008 was a surprisingly good effort, but the 2009 is slightly riper and bigger.” 89pts, The Wine Advocate

What I Think:

(13.5%) 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre – A classic Rhone blend this is a tried and true value wine. Like the CdP efforts this one is predominately Grenache and starts ripe and juicy with pomegranate, cherry, raspberry and spiced red licorice on the palate. From there the acidity dries turning this one meaty, earthy and rustic before a short peppery finish. That said overall this one is bright, fruity, spicy and delicious. Should only get better with age to boot…

Wine Geek Notes: 87pts Wine Spectator, 89 pts Wine Advocate, 75,000 cases made

Rating: Buy It (I’m leaning towards grabbing 6+ bottles for some short term cellaring)

2006 J. Vidal-Fleury Cotes du Rhone

2006 J. Vidal-Fleury Cotes du RhonePrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by W.J. Deutsch & Sons

What They Said:

Per wine.com “Brilliant garnet red color. Red fruits and spices on the nose. The mouth reveals rounded tannins (thanks to the stay in the oak barrels), a warm and full-bodied wine with an uncommon and lasting aromatic intensity. The proof that Côtes-du-Rhône can be a serious and elegant wine.”

What I Think:

This wine seems to make an annual appearance at Trader Joe’s and stays briefly before disappearing until the next vintage. This time I grabbed a bottle before it had the chance. Sometimes you have a sense of a brand or label and this has always been one of those cases where I considered this a well pedigreed bottle of $7 wine. I knew J. Vidal-Fleury was an old and famed negociant firm (founded in 1781), what I didn’t know is that they were acquired by Etienne Guigal in 1985 which just further enhances the pedigree referred to above.

Shortly after this wine arrived in the house I pulled the cork out and was greeted by a peppery nose and red fruits aromas. The initial presence on the palate was a bit plain and hot (perhaps tannic) but as it transitioned to the mid-palate lush fruits appeared turning slightly sour as it lingered and was accompanied by white pepper notes on a light tannic finish. The blend seemed to be focused on the grenache side of the typical Cotes du Rhone blending combination thought I couldn’t find any information to validate that. Perhaps I will contact the importer.

This one lives up to its pedigree of being a nice, perfectly balanced blend with fruit and spice making it a good pairing for most spicy and/or meat dishes. I’ll be getting another bottle and would suggest you grab one to try as well…

Rating: Buy It

Editor’s Note (17-Jun-2009): Received an email from the importer that the blend percentage on this one is 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and 10% Other.

2005 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per wine.com “Jean Pierre and Francois Perrin have taken particular care that this Cotes du Rhone meets their stringent standards of excellence. As proprietors of Chateau de Beaucastel in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the Perrin family has demonstrated exceptionally high standards for nearly a century.

The Rouge originates from a significant portion of the Perrin’s own vineyards, including those at Château Grand Prebois. Produced from 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre, some of which are flash-heated using the same methods as those at Château de Beaucastel, the fruit is rich and jammy with peppery spice, concentration and intensity.”

What I Think:

This one was also written up on quaffability which encouraged me to finally give it a go after looking at it luke-warmly for so long…We have a typical Rhone GSM blend here (60/20/20) with light fruit on the nose followed by loads of spice and pepper. On the palate you get some cherry and blackberry before the spice takes over midway and merges into woody/barrel flavors for a finish. The last Rhone I’ve had from TJ’s was this Les Moirets from the same vintage. Which do I prefer? Not sure but both are nice. Next time I hit the store I’ll grab them both for a side by side tasting. Then I can definitively select a winner! Anyone out there have an opinion on which is better?

Rating: Buy It

2005 Les Moirets Cotes du Rhone

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Cannon Wines

What They Said:

Per quaffability “I am happy to report that I agree with other readers who have tried the 2005 — it’s a worthy successor to the 2004, which received one of this blog’s highest scores.

The nose is spice box, cigar box, cherries, plums, wet dirt. It’s juicy in the mouth, without being too ripe. The finish is long with fruit and a little oak.

This is another great $5.99 Rhone.”

What I Think:

I’m going to keep my notes brief. I was turned on to this wine in my pre-blogging days by the ’04 write up on quaffability. Based on the new ’05 write up and my history I grabbed a bottle. I wasn’t disappointed. Great Grenache flavors! Big fruit on a drier, sage backbone. A clear winner. Though this is a rare case where the audience has made me reconsider. Comments are riddled to the point where it seems that 1 out of 2 bottles may be bad. The good news is that you can apparently return these to Trader Joe’s. As for me I’ll be buying more of this is small amounts until the first bottle fails. I like it, don’t get me wrong. Just not enough to make one trip to buy it and another to return it.

Rating: Buy It

2004 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone

Price: $9.99 @ The Wine Club imported by Ex Cellars Wine Agencies

What They Said:

Per Wine Advocate “The Wine Advocate A strong effort, the deeply-hued, seductive 2004 Cotes du Rhone (primarily Syrah with some Grenache included in the blend) displays loads of berry fruit, not a great deal of complexity, but beautiful texture, softness, and silkiness. Guigal’s master blends are always consistent and uniform despite different bottling dates. Most of these wines drink well for 3-4 years. If readers can still find any, 2003 was a very strong vintage for Guigal, with the 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape meriting a solid 90 points. It is a slightly more tannic version than the 2004, with more meat, kirsch, and body. I also thought the 2003 Gigondas (89) was better than the 2004. You can’t go wrong with the 2003 Cotes du Rhone (88) as it offers loads of berry fruit. Guigal, who also owns fabulous vineyards in the Northern Rhone, is a superb blender when it comes to his Southern Rhones. He is turning out enormous quantities of high quality Cotes du Rhone reds, whites, and roses as well as fine Chateauneuf du Papes, Gigondas, and a terrific rose from Tavel. Score: 87. —Robert Parker, February 2007.”

What I Think:

I still remember E. Guigal from when they received the #1 ranking in Wine Spectator’s top hundred wines of the year back a few years ago. I knew their offerings ran the gamut but it isn’t often you see them in front of you. Given it was there I grabbed it. With my wife out of town a few weeks back I was on back to back steak dinner nights which seemed like an opportune time to put this on the table. The notes are sparse but this wine falls into the upper tier of the ho-hum category. It isn’t manufactured; it is nice and starts to show something of interest. Unfortunately it stops along the way. Given that I would say that it is nice but not exceptional. This price point makes it particularly difficult; I give it a pricey rating. Good intro to Rhone wine, for those that can use this. As for me I’ll be trying to find a better version at TJ’s. This Pont du Rhone is the best I know of now, but I will be trying some of the others soon.

Rating: Pricey

2004 La Ferme Julien Rouge

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by International Wine Imports

What They Said:

Per quaffability “For some reason, despite the exalted pedigree I wasn’t expecting much from this wine. My experience with really large bulk producers from Southern French appellations hasn’t been good. Think Les Jamelle. The good cheap stuff seems to come from smaller producers in Bordeaux.

Basically, I was right. This wine is drinkable, but only borderline Quaffable. It offers Grenache cherry-spice in the nose, along with a little band-aid and dirt. We get the same flavors in the mouth with a touch of greenish plonkiness. The finish is short and simple. Much better than Two Buck Chuck, and not bad for five bucks, but nothing to get lathered up about”

What I Think:

Given that I am now a full 33 wines behind it seems that it is time to get cranking and say goodbye to my pretty world of posting all my wines in the exact order that I consumed them. With that I am first filtering my list to first time TJ’s entries as these are the ones that drive the vast majority of my traffic, who by the way I would love to see a post from after they try a wine. Good or bad, interaction is fun.

I have always heard good things about the Perrin family so seeing this on the shelf, though I believe it has been there for ages, it seemed worthy of a try. Per cork’d.com the blend percentage is as follows: 50% Grenache 20% Syrah 15% Carigan 15% Cinsault. We opened this one a few weeks back I don’t seem to have recorded the situation or the meal that it may have or not been paired with. What I did scribble is that it smelled “plonky” and a bit sour with perhaps a bit of spice hiding. The middle of the palate showed some fruit but it was extremely thin and tended towards cherries. The end was on the chewy side and not all unpleasant. At the end of the day your better rolling the dice on something else at this price point. There’s not much to see here so may as well move on.

Rating: Skip It

2005 Pont du Rhone Cotes du Rhone

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Plume Ridge Wine Negotiants

What They Said:

Per quaffability “This Rhône quaffer features a classic Grenache nose of sage, herb de provence and cherries. With a robust nose, the wine is surprisingly thin in the mouth, with cherries, watermelon, raspberries, and a touch or barnyard. Coming after a sensation of such thiness in the mouth, the simple finish is surprisingly long. This is a pleasant wine, but light. It’s probably best served chilled, and would work well with shellfish or other seafood dishes.”

Interestingly from the label “A wonderfully fruity red wine with violet, spices and choclate aromas. Excellent served with braised red or white meats. It is also an accompaniment for exoticism or very spicy dishes.

What I Think:

Tried this side by side with the Oxford Landing and it paled a bit in comparison. Maybe cause of the blend. This was 40% Grenache 30% Syrah and 30% Mourvedre. Guess that would make it a little less fruity and on the dryer side, no? We had it with turkey tacos and I think this may have been a bit too spicy for the wine so better try the “exoticism” next time. Leaves something to be desired, it seems like it is going somewhere but never arrives. That said, a very drinkable wine. Never would have thought of trying the suggested seafood pairing, maybe I’ll give it a go.

Rating: 12th Bottle