2007 Domaine les Grands Bois, Cuvée Gabrielle, Côtes du Rhône Villages
Retail price: approximately $18
Available at the Wine Connection
French Wines: Le Sommelier et le Vigneron
The Rhône Valley is a treasure chest of highly desirable French wine at very reasonable prices. The 2007 Cuvée Gabrielle from Domaine les Grands Bois is a great example of this consumer-friendly phenomenon. Interestingly, before becoming a winemaker, Marc Besnardeau of Les Grands Bois developed his palate as a sommelier in Paris. The experience of evaluating and serving many different wines to accompany a variety of meals is a rare credential for a vigneron but a tremendously useful preparation.
Cuvée Gabrielle (named for Besnardeau’s daughter) is sourced from 80-year-old vines of grenache, syrah, carignan and mourvèdre. Old vines signal not only a certain patience on the part of the winery but, more important, a commitment to the overall quality and depth of the wines it produces. Generally speaking, old vines produce far fewer grape clusters than younger, more productive vines, but the precious fruit they do manage is more intense and concentrated and often results in more intriguing wines in the bottle.
This blend is full bodied and will benefit from decanting for at least 20 minutes. Its dense violet purple is nearly opaque and throws off layers and layers of elegant aromas of bay leaf, lavender and ripe cherries. Les Grands Bois’s robust quality is kept in check with well-integrated acidity, alcohol and tannins. In other words, the wine works harmoniously—never against itself. The exceptional 2007 vintage plays its part here, but the older vines also contribute to the wine’s combination of depth and balance.
The Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation is superior to the Côtes du Rhône designation, as its wines are produced from vineyards from a restricted number of villages whose terroir is considered of higher quality.
Serve it with a variety of bistro fare, including mushroom tarts, onion soup, blanquette de veau à l’ancienne and all manner of pommes de terre.
Editor’s note: Food and wine lovers heading to Paris might want to try one of the Girls’ Guide’s favorite cooking classes.