by Paige Donner
The Côte du Rhône has, of course, some superstar apellations. Think Châteauneuf du Pape, Crozes-hermitage, Côte-Rôtie, Saint Joseph… to drop some of the big names.
But it’s always worth taking a look at smaller producers and less well-known villages in these prestige regions. Here is where you will find wines made with tender loving care, often by family owned and operated wineries whose productions are enough to keep the family farms running – in good years.
Dentelles de Montmirail, Gigondas area, Côte du Rhône
Domaine Saint Amant is one of these. The winemaker, Camille, who, as a matter fact, was recently featured in Food&Wine’s women winemakers coverage, champions respect for biodiversity on her Famille Jacques Wallut’s estate. They produce in total about 50K bottles per year, all harvested by hand and vinified in small batches to allow for graceful maturation.
Beaumes de Venise AOC is the appellation this estate is located in however they do some interesting Côtes du Rhône Villages wines as well.
The vineyards grow at about 600m altitude in what is known as the Dentelles de Montmirail with the mountain of Saint Amant rising just behind.
Here are two wines from the estate. Both are perfect for a romantic Christmas dinner.
Roussanne 2014 , Appellation Côtes du Rhône Villages Contrôlée
Terroir de Marnes calcaire du Trias au coeur des Dentelles de Montmirail. Elevage sur lies en futs de chêne pendant 12 mois. Servir à 12°C.
This is an interesting white that Camille did a one-off with. She collected all her Roussanne grapes from various areas of her vineyards, vinified them and made a superb, characterful white wine. It accompanies nicely with morel mushroom stuffed veal or with grilled shrimp garnished monkfish. (*I hope she does this wine again. It’s too good just to be a one off).
Grangeneuve, Beaumes de Venise AOC, 2016
Classic red gem. Blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Viognier. These vines are 85+ years old and the maturity is apparent in this big red’s complexity. Aged in oak. Since this wine can easily age another 15 years, it is best to decant it at least 2 hours before when serving for your delicious dinner guest. Serve at 15°C. Best with red meats, gibier and fromage.
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