An “over the motorway” wine from the Northern Rhone: Rhone Wine Tour top tips


Many of my Rhone Wine Tour guests will remember me acclaiming what I call “over the motorway” wines made by Chateauneuf du Pape producers, the wines given humble Cotes du Rhone designation as they are from grapes grown on the land just “over the motorway ( the A7 to be precise) from the illustrious Chateauneuf terroir of their owners – examples are Beaucastel’s Coudolet, Janasse’s Terre D’Argile, the Vielles Vignes from Cristia etc. These are invariably wines that punch well above their weight showing much of the character of a Chateauneuf for a fraction of the price, after all almost identical terroir, same climate, same fanatical attention to quality from the wine maker….a bargain for those in the know. Well, the other day I came across this little gem which must be the Northern Rhone’s equivalent -a simple Cotes du Rhone ( a Syrah dominant Syrah/Grenache blend) from the great (greatest?) Hermitage producer J L Chave -the name of the cuvée”Mon Coeur”. This a very serious CdeR, dark mature black fruit, big ripe tannins and lovely glossy smooth mouthfeel, the 2013 absolutely ready to drink now. A bottle of Chave’s famous Hermitage is going to set you back a pretty penny – at least €240 a bottle. The Mon Coeur costs £13.50 ( £162.00 per case) at Rhone specialist merchant Yapp Brothers in the UK. Bargain, enough said!

Herer’s some more technical info on this wine from J L-L ‘s excellent site ( so it turns out its from an assemblage of Southern Rhone grapes!)purchased wine, usually 40-50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 5-15% Cinsault, 5-10% Mourvèdre, 0-5% Carignan from, in order of amount, Cairanne (Grenache notably), Vinsobres (Syrah from the plateau), Rasteau (Grenache notably), Visan, destemmed, 3 week vinification, pumping overs, aged vat, 4-6 year old 228 and 600-litre oak casks 12-15 months, fined, filtered, several bottlings, 150,000 b (up from 90,000 b early 2010s, 60,000 b mid-2000s, and 40,000 b 2003-04), several bottlings, “I like a little wild side to my Côtes du Rhône”