RKS Wine: Côtes du Rhône: Wines Above the Maddening Crowd:

There is a plenitude of wines on the market that are good but over the past years they are beginning to taste similar. Could it be they are made to please the marketplace? Predictability? Homogenization? Hegemony of blender consultants?

With many reds and whites from Côtes du Rhône you’ll get the impression they have not caved to the supermarket. They might be a bit rough on the edges and some are gravelly and scratchy on the throat which are enjoyable . And they are reasonably priced.

So what’s up with the 2017 Domaine Saint Michel Red? The grapes used in the blend 45% Grenache, 30% Carignan, 20% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre may draw a puzzled look aside from Syrah. Do you run to or away from the unfamiliar?

On the nose the Grenache shows its hand lending an almost overripe strawberry identifier to the wine. There is hefty component of black cherry with a side of black cherry cola. The wine is not lush or dense but focused and lively but not high toned and flighty. On the palate some lightweight tannins and the acids are superbly well integrated so important for a red wine. The last characteristic I want is a red wine with some zippiness to it. As the wine hits the mouth there is a tiny tad of restrained and momentary sweetness. Lots of black cherry with some pomegranate and a minute bit of gravel and perhaps a bit of white pepper lingering on the finish courtesy of the Syrah.

This is one of those wines that is both good to quaff and match with food. I would pair it with roast lamb coated with pesto. No harm will come matching it with a striploin. Vegheads might like it with Umami Garlic Noodles With Mustard Greens (or Rapini).

I do not think this will improve in the bottle but keeping it around in the right temperature for a couple of years will do it no harm.

The wine is from a small estate of 20 hectares run by the Boyer family. Their 45-year-old vines are organically farmed and grown in stony soils. The grapes are hand picked and given the clarity and sharpness on the palate there has been no oak used.

The alcohol is well hidden at 14%. You can buy in Canada for a case of 12 for $231 ($19.25 a bottle) through The Small Winemakers at www.smallwinemakers.ca

RKS Wine Rating 93/100.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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