Rhône: My Cure for Wine Ennui

Rhône: My Cure for Wine Ennui

Believe it or not, I do get sick of wine. My palate goes numb and I wonder if it’s all a waste of time and money — at the end of day, it’s just fermented grape juice.

And then. Then I taste a wine that reminds me why I fell in love with wine. It’s rarely An Important Bottle that pulls me back from the brink. Nothing against vintage Champagne, super-Tuscans, or Oregon single-vineyard Pinots, but what wins my heart back every time is wine from the Rhône. Geographically speaking, the Rhône is a river in Southeastern France. The river valley is home to some of my favorite wines in the world. The northern half of the Rhône produces reds that are based on Syrah in its deepest, darkest, and most brooding form. Think Clive Owen in a glass. Southern Rhône wines are usually based on Grenache, with some help from Syrah and other lesser-known varieties (to us) like Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a southern Rhône wine. They still pack a punch, but are more gregarious, with a sense of humor. (George Clooney in wine form.) These wines have a direct, unpretentious quality that appeals to me, and they go well with some of my favorite foods, like  grilled and roasted lamb, beef, duck.

Tonight, it was this Château de Bouchassy 2007 Lirac that did the trick. Lirac is a region in the southern Rhône, and true to form, Grenache is the predominant grape variety. When I first opened the wine last night, it was a little withdrawn and, frankly, kinda boring. But when I tried it tonight, it was a completely different wine. Blackberries, dark cherries, dried herbs, licorice — there’s a lot going on here, but it’s well-balanced, with a beautifully silky texture, and all the elements work together nicely. In an ideal world, I would have opened this wine in another year or two. But this being the real world, I’ll probably have another glass tonight and polish off the rest tomorrow.

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