2011 Tour de l’Isle Cotes du Rhone Blanc

September 22 – The first day of autumn, 2013. Yep, things are changing … rapidly. There seem to be an abundance of fallen leaves already strewn about the ground; evening temperatures have taken a turn to the cooler; and beginning last night and lasting through today in the Bay Area, we got our first rainstorm of the season! I guess I did actually jinx the weather at the end of my write-up two weeks ago. No matter if I did or didn’t, the fact remains that it is now fall. What does fall mean to us? Well, to me, it means the days are getting shorter, Champions’ League group stage has begun, and it’s become time to eat more seafood. Living next to the Pacific Ocean, one doesn’t necessarily need to adhere to ye olde adage about not eating shellfish in months with no ‘R’s, but I’m still pretty careful anyway. And with crab season in the not too distant future, I think the time is right to sock away a few bottles of the 2011 Côtes du Rhône Blanc from Tour de l’Isle, so I will have them when I need them.

Something that I was already on to when I first began working here at TWHwas that as much as I enjoy red meat and red wine, I find that the best wine pairings are with white wine. And sure, it would be great to live Anya’s dream and have white Burgundy every night, but a modicum of realism is in order. I read an article in a wine publication many years ago which declared white Rhône wines to be, “The best white wines you haven’t been drinking.” A bold statement to be sure, but in many ways, I agree. White wines make up less than 25% of the Rhône’s total production, so they’re not easy to find. But when you find one, especially if it’s at the right pricepoint, there is cause for stocking up. We recently received another container from France (you’ve been hearing about some of these wines already, and there will be more soon), and on it were the latest releases from Robert Rocchi’s Tour de l’Isle label. (A bit on Robert here.) The 2011 Côtes du Rhône Blanc is made from 30% Clairette, 25% Grenache Blanc, 25% Marsanne, and 20% Roussanne. It’s a bright, fresh, complex little number that delivers much quality for a modest price. Tom told me he thinks that the Clairette is the magic ingredient, giving the wine that je ne sais quoi, making it stand out among an already underpriced, over-performing group of wines. The aromas are of fresh white peach, apricot, a hint of kiwi, and an underlying Provençal herb garden. On the palate, it is bright and zippy, the fruit buoyed by the lively acidity, with mineral notes; leading to a fresh, harmonious finish. It is NOT a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but it sure reminds me of one … at 1/3 the cost!!! Yes indeed, I am going to want to have some of these around the next time I’ve got a crab in me mitts. It’s not just for crab either – you can enjoy this with things like scampi, roast chicken, Salad Niçoise, or an herb crusted roast pork loin.

So yeah, I’m excited about the fall and all the things that come with it.  Birthdayfest has been over for a week (though it was extended by one day this past week), and what a fest it was! Good times! Let’s just say that Champions’ League began with a debacle, but hopefully, we’ll get past that. Most importantly, we’re super excited about our recent container from France – look for more on that soon. We’ll be unveiling a brand new vintage of a very special wine from Bordeaux next week, be on the look out for that! Meanwhile, for your pairing needs, howz about giving the 2011 Tour de l’Isle Côtes du Rhône Blanc a whirl? It could very well be the best white wine that you haven’t been drinking! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on Côtes du Rhône Blancs, our new container, Champions’ League Football, or autumn: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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Filed under Clairette, Cotes du Rhone Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Peter Zavialoff

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