By The Glass
2005 Rhones deserve some love, too
The 2005 vintage is a great one throughout Europe. It is considered one of the best vintages for Bordeaux and Burgundy. Germany also boasts a fabulous 2005. Italy, ditto. All these wines have garnered much praise from the press and have been eagerly purchased by wine collectors around the world, despite the record-setting prices in most instances.
But I've noticed there hasn't been a lot of hype nor requests for 2005 Rhone wines, and I don't understand why. Like its neighbors, Rhone had an excellent vintage in 2005. The wines are classic and while approachable now, they will last for decades if stored properly. Most of my customers recognize Chateauneuf-de-Pape and Cotes-du-Rhone, two of the most popular wines from the Southern Rhone, but few know a lot about them and even fewer will pull the trigger and buy one.
Both Chateauneuf-de-Pape and Cotes-du-Rhone wines generally feature grenache, syrah and mourverdre grapes in a blend. You see a lot of the same grape varietals now from Australia and California. Chateauneuf-de-Pape is more serious, prestigious, expensive and revered than Cotes-du-Rhone, but both wines will please most red-wine lovers with their fruity profiles, good structure and soft tannins.
While I consider them classic, they are also more whimsical than cabernet, merlot and pinot noir. You can enjoy a Chateauneuf-de-Pape or Cotes-du-Rhone just as easily with a fancy and classical dish, like Steak Diane or Beef Wellington, as with a casual dish, like chili and rice, or even a more exotic dish, such as mild Thai curry. One of my favorites is Katsu Curry Rice with a nice bottle of Cotes du Rhone (bet you never thought of that one).
Prices for 2005 Rhone wines are sane. You can find world-class -- the best of the best -- Chateauneuf-de-Pape for less than $100. Beaucastel, a revered chateau, can be found for right around $100. Other great Chateauneuf-de-Papes, like 2005 Caillou for $70 and 2005 Charbonniere Mourre des Perdrix for $48, are also top of the line. The great 2005 Caillou is an absolute bargain at $23.
So between classic pedigree, versatility with all kinds of food, sane pricing and great flavor, what is there not to like? Check out the 2005 Rhone wines. I'm quite sure you will be very pleased.
Jay Kam is president of Vintage Wine Cellar.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org