Wines of the Rhone

January at the New York Public Library, during the Wine Star Awards ceremony, the Wine Enthusiast awarded the 2010 Wine Region of the Year to the Rhone Valley.

Based on a criterion of quality of wines, work and energy put forth by merchandisers, promotional efforts, and the series of excellent vintages, the award reflects the trending popularity of Rhone Valley wines.

Award in hand, the Inter Rhone team braved east coast blizzards and flew to Toronto where, at George Restaurant, Toronto’s wine enthusiasts tasted from a wide range of fifteen Rhone Valley wines.

Competition between French wines to distinguish themselves from their compatriots is significant, but in Canada the Rhone Valley region is the third most popular. The objective of Inter Rhone now is to further develop their market share across The United States and Canada.

The Cotes du Rhone vineyards run along the banks of the Rhone between Lyon and Avignon. In all there are 60 000 hectares of vineyards for 7 000 wineries producing 386 million bottles, of which 1 000 000 are sold each day and are consumed across 145 countries.

On this day, as Inter Rhone president, Christian Paly shares with us his passion for wine, we pair each course with our own choices from the selection provided for us.

George’s Chef Lorenzo Loseto begins with plump B.C. rock shrimp with Belgian endive, and brazil nut curry, for which I choose the 2009 Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhones Blanc (40% Grenache blanc, 20% Bourboulenc, 20% Marsanne, and 20% Viognier). Fresh and floral with citric notes it is well balanced, not dry. The 2008 Louis Bernard red (65% Grenache, 35% Sryah) is cherry colour with ample aromas of berries and fruit that complement the duck breast with barley risotto and broccoli confit. More Grenache and Sryah for the juicy beef tenderloin with a sharp goat cheese gratin and brussel relish. This deep purple 2007 Visan is more mature and dominated by black fruits and licorice with hints of spice.

The Cotes du Rhone covers a diverse topography from north to south, and its gastronomy as well as its viticulture reflects this. Very affordable price points, a wide selection of wines, and a richness in flavour as deep as its history, make the Rhone Valley and its wines an enticing exploration.

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