The beauty of the Rhône vineyards at Château de Beaucastel. © Château de Beaucastel


RHÔNE - The 'secret' is out and it has spread to Asia – Rhône wines are the new eldorado! At our February London wine auction, the great Guigals from the Northern Rhône just flew out of the proverbial door and Asian buyers were much in evidence. Southern Rhône gems such as Château Rayas and Château de Beaucastel, Hommage à Jacques Perrin, two iconic Châteauneuf-du-Papes, went way over estimate, chased by an international band of fans.

However, the magnificent 2010 vintage has given us all access to Rhône wines at every level – and what choice there is. One of the best hunting grounds for superb reds at ungreedy prices are all the Villages in the Côtes du Rhône. Prowling around the 2010 tastings, there was so much that was just lip-licking good. This is an area that abounds in families that have been making wine for generations and, so far, they have not suffered from ‘delusions of grandeur’, which I detect in some of the heady, alcoholic reds from the Languedoc where prices have soared.

Some Southern Rhône enchantments come from a beautiful estate, Château Pesquié, making delicious, modest Côtes du Ventoux to superb Gigondas – when I was young, Gigondas was known as the poor man’s Châteauneuf (and often found its way into the superior appellation!). Domaine Montirius has an all roses and violets Côtes du Rhône 'Sérine', which is an old varietal of Syrah – you can win a pub quiz with that. This Domaine also specialises in exquisite Vacqueyras, another sunny village. Michel and Stéphane Ogier have a Villages Plan de Dieu ‘Le Temps Est Venu’ – right up close to Gigondas and surely one of the most evocative vineyard site names in existence.

From the Northern Rhône, I love the Crozes-Hermitage Les Amandiers from Domaine du Murinais and that from Yann Chave,  the Cornas Domaine du Tunnel from Stéphane Robert, plus his St.Joseph, and the St.Joseph Silice from Domaine Pierre et Jérome Coursodon. My advice is, go search!