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This wine is complexbut it isn't a show-off about it.
Of France’s three great red wine regions, one is prohibitively expensive (Bordeaux), one makes Bordeaux look cheap (Burgundy) and one is the Rhône. The irony is that for the majority of the wine-drinking public, it’s the wines of the Rhône, with their fruit-forward profile and full body, that are the most obviously pleasing. And while there’s plenty of trophy wines to be had in the region (Guigal’s single-vineyard wines run about $400 per bottle), for the most part, finding a decently priced bottle is a snap.
The key to understanding the Rhône is to divide it into north and south. The north is the spiritual home of the syrah grape (Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage being the two most famous sub-regions) and viognier (with Condrieu being that grape’s greatest expression). The south is a little more complicated, with Châteauneuf-du-Pape and its up to 19 component grape varieties reigning supreme (but of the 19, you need to know grenache, carignan, mourvèdre, cinsault and syrah). As a broad rule, the north is more expensive and refined and the south more gregarious and accessible (and boozy), but both are far more accessible than the aforementioned fancy-pants regions. A bottle like Château de Montfaucon is a great example: the wine is complex enough—cherries and raspberries dominate—but not a show-off about it. It’s aged in concrete so it has a great juiciness and minerality and a lingering aroma of violets. All this at what’s become the entry-point price for wines from the Okanagan? A Gallic no-brainer.