"I never met a Rhône I didn't like," says Cousin Marty (a Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law professor of constitutional law, leading civil rights advocate, and my favorite cousin).
Marty's always looking for great value in red wine, and Rhône is one of his go-tos. Of all of France's major wine regions, Rhône consistently delivers under-$25 value and, for the most part, Rhône producers have stayed true to their roots. It's difficult to find a Californianized wine there (although there are a handful).
Made from mostly Grenache, with a balance of Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Clairette, this wine was meaty and chewy but just light enough in body that it paired superbly well with some cast-iron-skillet-fired porterhouse porkchops. Acidity? Check. Ripe red fruit? Check. Earthliness? Check.
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But the thing I liked the most about the wine was its freshness and its clean, focused flavors. This bottling, from a relatively unknown appellation in the southern most tip of the Rhône Valley, is a wine meant to be drunk young, and the winemaker ages it in stainless-steel, knowing that it's not intended for long-term aging but rather youthful drinking.
At this rate, I'm going to have to start saying, "some of my best friends are from the Rhône!" Good call, Marty!