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WBW #19 When in Rhône: Cellier des Dauphins Prestige 2002

I wish I was in the Rhône Valley. Instead it's late Tuesday night before Wine Blogging Wednesday and I'm on my way home from work searching for an idea. I'm scratching my head wondering where I am going to find some Côtes du Rhône to blog about. Every liquor outlet I walk by has already closed. The convenience stores will only sell table wine and I'd be lucky if the label even said France, let alone Rhône. Things are looking bleak. Then my thoughts wander to the sole Rhône bottle I have in storage at home, a prized Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Expensive -- that goes without saying -- and a purchase that I promised myself would be for a special occasion. I wonder whether I could really do it. Could I really pull out the cork? Drink the Châteauneuf with pork sausages and fried potato rounds while watching American Idol and then recork any precious drops that are left over to have during lunch at work. I could arrange to bring in a lunch more special than peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. And my post would end up looking something like this.

No, that would be wasteful. Now I know why Jathan warned everyone about leaving WBW to the last minute.

And then upon the horizon, an idea.
captured and claimed mountainCellier des DauphinsmountainCellier des Dauphinsmountain
Cellier des Dauphins produces the ultimate travel wine. They come in six-packs but you can buy them individually – just tear out a bottle or two for a hasty purchase. There are light-weight, fit next to your keys in your pants pocket, and have screwtops for easy opening. Plus, they’re a breeze to pick up en route to your destination. Usually that destination is a picnic. But that wasn’t the case for me. As I found out Cellier des Dauphins is also the ultimate wine for your late-night pickups, for your American Idol campouts or what have you. In a cinch, I find my red and white Rhône on the main drag.

Back at home, I taste the red first while the white continues to chill in my freezer. It's no Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but the Cellier des Dauphins Prestige Côtes du Rhône 2002 at least has structure. The vast majority of the blend is Grenache -- and even more daunting -- Grenache from a bad vintage (2002). Somehow this little wine manages quite well. Mouth-puckering tannins make you want to eat that saucisson right out of the picnic basket. The 15% Syrah indicated in the descriptive file seems to do its job: the fruit of this Grenache-based blend is not going to overwhelm you. It's reined in and given purpose, and with the distinctive peppery taste I expect from the Rhône. The consistency is a bit thin and the colour is very light. But hey, it's $4.50!

On to the white, which is also called Cellier des Dauphins Prestige Côtes du Rhône. In fact, these two wine labels are identical so producers don't need to cover new printing costs incurred in the move from white to red, from one vintage to the next, which makes this is the only non-table wine I've seen that avoids mentioning the year of the harvest. While the bottles are quite small (250 mL), there's still space to add a little sticker with the year of vintage on it. Any urge for the producer to do so are made moot by his careful market analysis: People buying this wine are going places in the here and now; they don't need any indication of provenance. What does need some indication is the aroma. It's fruitless and tight. Tasting it is even worse. A candied black licorice note is very strong. Acids are not well balanced. The white Prestige needs to be drunk several degrees colder than the standard. This Cellier des Dauphins entry is not as convincing.

But as I mentioned from the outset, these are wines for your moveable feast. When on a picnic, you want that white to be extra cold and refreshing, so serve it ice cold. And what's more is that you are not going to drink these wines on their own -- they are to wash down the fried chicken and potato salad. To judge them in a vacuum is not entirely fair. Besides, you know what they say about the best picnic wines... They are ideal because when you are on a picnic, you aren't close enough to your wine cellar to select a better bottle.

Tulette, Drôme, France. 13.5%, 12.5%.

1 comment:

Collin C. said...

Brilliant! Seems perfect for sneaking into the movie theatre! I will have to keep an eye out for these so I can be well stocked for the matinee.
cheers,
Collin