I rarely drink Rhone wines, as Burgundy is my home turf, where my palate is pleased, amused, and occasionally amazed.
Thirty years ago I tasted many of the big 1989/1990 Rhone wines, and over time I’ve gradually grown to dislike the big, burly, alcoholic wines from that region. This is admittedly my problem – my battle with syrah “mano a mano.”
Now, having said that I do sometimes taste agreeable and even enjoyable Rhone wines. When this happens, I frequently wonder: Why do I like this wine, but not many other Rhones?
Elkjær-Amiel Côtes du Rhone 2017
The Elkjær-Amiel Côtes du Rhone is made by a fellow Dane, Rune Elkjær, who has been making wines in the Rhone Valley for the better part of ten years.
His Côtes du Rhone is made from three grapes – Grenache (60% whole cluster), Cinsault, and Mourvèdre (both 80% whole). The grapes comes from old vines; the Grenache, for example, was planted in the 1950s.
The 2017 edition is lively and energetic with a vivid feel. After 20 minutes to allow the reduction to blow off and the temperature to rise from a chilly 13C, this wine shows a transparent core of agreeably vivid fruit. Its texture is lively and delicate, with an airy lightness. It’s not massively complex, but it is energetic and enjoyable. It hides its 14.5% well, but in the end the alcohol becomes more evident as the wine warms. So drink it cool and cheerful. It is actually a very nice vin de soif –
And yes … I did
Some will say: the Winehog? Rhone? Yes, I did, and I’ll let you in on a secret: I actually taste a lot of wines from other districts, some of them classic and some exceedingly strange. And I will continue to do so!
It’s never a foregone conclusion – not even to myself – that I enjoy only Burgundy. Rune Elkjær has done very well in making this Côtes de Rhone, with its fine balance and juicy, whole-cluster character.
I think the grape varieties he chose are quite important, as they provide nice energy and lively mid-palate fruit. No syrah is included; this is perhaps my main reason for liking this wine!