Wine: Valreas Cotes du Rhone Villages “Cuvee Prestige”
Grapes: Grenache (75 percent), syrah (25 percent)
Region: Rhone Valley, France
Availability: Trader Joe’s
In the glass: Valreas Rhone wine is a deeply opaque purplish-red color with a dense core going out into a fine violet-red rim definition and medium-high viscosity.
On the nose: It is an incredibly attractive wine with mixed black and sweetish red berry fruit, allspice character, red flowers, dried roses, then ripe cranberry juice, boysenberry sorbet and cherries jubilee, followed by hints of phenolics, white pepper and fruit-driven minerality.
On the palate: The wine opens up with a supple rounded melange of fruit terrine made from raspberries, cherries and blackberries. There’s blueberry juice, too, and spice components with a touch of exotic notes and then that allspice character again. The wine’s midpalate continues the pleasant path set by the opening notes and shows focused balanced red and black fruit in play with soft tannins, going through to the firm finish, which is laced with a hint of anise and minerals from alluvial soils, along with great fruit acidity to balance it all out.
Odds and ends: This is a serious- looking bottle from the southern part of the Rhone Valley and some of the fine vineyards in the sought-after Cotes du Rhone Villages. There are 17 villages in the region that contribute to the classification of Cotes du Rhone Villages and this Valreas wine is made by the well-regarded cooperative called Les Vignerons de L’Enclave. What is most remarkable about this wine, which costs less than $6, is its ability to slay other, much more expensive, Cotes du Rhone wines in a blind tasting. I am somewhat dumbfounded how it is even possible to bring this excellent wine into the Trader Joe’s stores for this ridiculous price, so kudos all around from producer to retailer for making this wine available to consumers. Now go out and get a case of it, because you’ll really enjoy this classic Rhone blend of grenache and syrah with its depth and solid-structured character. Try it with a classic winter hot pot with lots of marinated meat and vegetables. Drink it now through 2018.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at email@example.com.