Returning from a Caribbean island vacation of sunshine, balmy breezes and rum concoctions, my husband and I arrived in New York to find the evening temperatures teetering from the low 30s into the 20s. We morosely put away our sandals and swimsuits, gave up our idea of extending the vacation feeling by mixing up frozen drinks in the blender, ordered a pizza and opted for a red wine to warm us.
M. Chapoutier’s Côtes du Rhône Belleruche 2007 was just the ticket, found for only $10 a bottle, to a sun-drenched land, with its vibrant raspberry and red cherry fruit, warmed earth, pepper and spice notes. This blend of Grenache and Syrah is a good example of what Côtes du Rhône should be—a fresh, juicy red that balances ripe fruit and lively acidity, all at a great price—though you can find Côtes du Rhône wines of greater intensity and depth of character if you spend another $10 to $15 more. 87 points, non-blind.
Since we had vacationed at an eco-resort, Chapoutier was in keeping with the conservation mindset that we were still in. Many of Chapoutier’s vineyards are farmed biodynamically, and Michel is extremely passionate on the subject. (The first time I met him, seated next to him at a lunch at one of New York’s pillars of elegant dining, he launched into an extended discourse on the merits of different types of manure as fertilizer.) Belleruche—which comes from vineyards in four different areas of the broad Côtes du Rhône appellation: Drôme, Vaucluse, Gard and the Ardèche—is not in his biodynamic wine portfolio, but it was nice to know we were supporting his overall efforts.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche 2007 (88, $15).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Top Values among Rhône reds.