A Wine Lover's Weekly Guide To $10 Wines - A Red Cotes Du Rhone

     Today's wine is an old standard, a red Cotes du Rhone from the well-known Rhone River Valley in southeastern France. This is a popular, fairly inexpensive wine appellation whose quality varies quite a bit. This particular wine was vinified from Grenache and Syrah grapes, the two most commonly used varieties in this appellation. Louis Bernard did not choose to use any other of the almost 20 other varieties both red and white that are accepted (should I say tolerated?) in this wine. Not that I am complaining. Many of them such as Camarese are quite unknown, presumably for good reason. And I am no fan of putting white grapes in a red wine, even more so grapes such as Ugni Blanc. All I know about the producer is his location in Gigondas, France. His website is unavailable and so he loses out on this free, marketing opportunity. Our companion wine is a fancier Rhone Valley wine blended mostly from Grenache and Syrah grapes at more than twice the price.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone AOC 2009 13.5 % alcohol about $8.

Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. "Tasting Note: Medium ruby red color; aromas of berry fruit, anise, plums with earthy notes; dry, medium bodied, with ripe, juicy berry fruit flavors and hints of spice on the finish. Serving Suggestion: Try with a grilled New York striploin steak." And now for my review.

At the first sips this wine tasted nicely of tobacco. It had nice length but slightly unripe acidity. The meal started with Japanese Wasabi crackers that imparted a slight sweetness to the drink. The centerpiece was a cheeseless meat lasagna made with spinach noodles. In response the wine was thin and somewhat sour, offering a bit of chocolate. The fruit juice candy dessert muted the wine's acidity and gave it an unpleasant grapey taste.

My next meal involved a breaded chicken cutlet that came out of a box. Now this CdR offered a good balance of fruit (mainly plums) and acidity but it wasn't powerful. In the presence of the caponata side dish made from tomatoes, eggplant, onion, celery, green olives, and tomato paste, the libation's acidity perked up. On the other hand, when paired with fresh strawberries its acidity disappeared.

My final meal consisted of a boxed baked Ziti Siciliano that I doused with grated Parmesan cheese. Now this wine presented good acidity. It was refreshing but light with virtually no tannins. Dessert consisted of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream that simply gutted the liquid.

The first cheese was a provolone. Now the wine was oaky, lightly acidic and lightly tannic, and refreshing. When paired with a goat's milk cheese containing figs both its oak and acidity intensified. I then tasted it alongside a frozen high-quality French-style custard pie with a buttery crust and strawberries. The dessert's acidity really muted the wine.

Final verdict. I won't buy this wine again. I expected more. I won't look for another wine from this producer until their website is up and running. And I won't be holding my breath.

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Levi Reiss authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but prefers drinking fine wine with the right foods and people. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. Visit his Italian travel website www.travelitalytravel.com

Posted on 2013-12-13, By: *

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Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author.

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