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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

Two Côtes du Rhône Whites

M. Chapoutier Belleruche 2007 and E. Guigal 2006

Thomas Matthews
Posted: August 11, 2009

The last meal of our vacation at Edisto Beach, S.C., starred shrimp, of course. Shrimp boats dock daily on the island; it’s one of the few places where the catch is sold fresh, not frozen. And jumbos sell for $11 per pound. So we simply boiled up a few pounds with salt, pepper and lemon, and piled them on the table to peel and eat.

Since we were leaving the next day, we were in “finish it up” mode, and that included wine: We drank what we had left, two bottles of white Côtes du Rhône, bought in Charleston at $15 each. They made an interesting comparison, between producers and vintages.

The 2007 Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône White Belleruche was both richer and fresher. Lush and almost oily in texture, it showed floral, anise and melon flavors. Expressive, if a bit disjointed and soft, it showed distinctive character.

The 2006 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône White was more traditional in style, with a lighter body and more acidity carrying pear, lemon and almond flavors. It had less character, but more harmony. I rated both wines 85 points, non-blind.

Neither wine was a perfect match with the shrimp, to be honest. They were just too heavy. But after two weeks at the beach, with perfect weather, delicious food and excellent company, no one was complaining. Except that we had to leave.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting reviews for M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône White Belleruche 2007 (85, $13) and E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône White 2006 (86, $14).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Côtes du Rhône whites, along with our quick list of Top Values among Rhône whites.

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