Friday, September 24, 2021

The Little Rascals of Marchesi di Barolo

Piedmont is one of my favorite wine regions in Italy.  Today I’m sharing a wine from the historic Marchesi di Barolo wine estate whom celebrated their 90th anniversary back in 2019.  Although I’d love to be sharing some of their reputable Barolo and Barbaresco wines, I’ll be sharing one of their Barbera wines from Monferrato. 

The Winery ~ Marchesi di Barolo 

Marchesi di Barolo was originally owned by Marchese Carlo Tancredi Falleti di Barolo and his wife Giulia.  They had been producing Barolo since the early 19th century and had donated many of their proceeds to a local charity that helped the needy in the city of Torino.  When the couple passed away there was no one to inherit the estate.  In 1929 a local winemaker, Pietro Abbono, purchased the winery and eventually all the vineyards.  Since 2006 Marchesi di Barolo is now managed by Piero’s great grandson, Ernesto Abbono, whom is the 5th generation winemaker, along with his wife Anna and their children.  Today the winery still donates to the same charity that Carlo and Giulia originally intended to support. 

Marchesi di Barolo occupies 430 acres in the Langhe appellation of Piedmont.  The wine cellars and winery located in the actual town of Barolo that overlook the Marchese Falletti castle.  The vineyards are located in Barolo of the Langhe, along with the Roero and Monferrato appellations, but the wines are vinified back at the original wine cellars. 

The Wine 

The 2014 Marchesi di Barolo Barbera del Monforte “Maraia” DOC is grown on calcarous clay soils that are rich in quartz sand.  I love the meaning of the name of this wine as it reminds me of my two little boys.  The name “Maraia”, meaning rowdy kids or little rascals in local Piedmont dialect, is meant to highlight the wine’s lively nature.  The grapes are grown in Maranzana in the Asti province.  They are hand-picked spending 8 days macerating with 1 year in Slavonian oak.   

2014 Marchesi di Barolo Barbera del Monforte “Maraia” DOC

The color of this wine was translucent garnet.  I’m not one for crazy descriptors, but the wine was perfumed with notes of grape jam, cherry chapstick and ripe blackberries.  Medium-bodied and lively acidity on the palate with tart cherry notes and silky tannins.  I sensed a little warmth on this one, but the alcohol was only 13%.  SRP $12.99 at my local wine shop.

Friday, September 17, 2021

A Journey Through the Cotes du Rhone

Covering the wines of from the Cotes du Rhone of France is a first for me and I’m glad I became a part of the #Winophiles group for this opportunity sponsored by Cotes du Rhône partnered withTeuwen Communications.  I tasted a number of wines from both the Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Villages and I’ll cover the differences between the wines from both of these designations.  Tasting these wines really proved to me how I’m an Old World kind of girl.  Let’s taste some French wine this week! 

Cotes du Rhone 

The name, Cotes du Rhone, is interpreted to mean the “hillsides of the Rhone” river.  It’s a stretch of land over 155 miles from north to south lining the Rhone River.  The geography was created by a clash between the Massif Central and the Alps, which then became flooded by the Mediterranean.  There is quite the diversity in soils due to the marine sediment and also due to volcanic activity in the northern Rhone there is also granite, limestone and clay. 

The Rhone Valley spans a massive territory of 98,000 acres allowing 21 grape varietals.  In comparison to all of the wines produced in France, the Rhone contributes 9% of the total production.  The red and rose wines are predominantly made from the Grenache grape that lends fruit and body to the wines.  It is also blended with Syrah and Mourvedre that lend color, structure and spice.  White wines are a blend of various degrees of primarily Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier.   


Wine map of the Cotes du Rhone wine region

Cotes du Rhone AOC 

The Cotes du Rhone AOC appellation is the 2nd largest in France in terms of volume.  It also is one of the oldest appellations with vineyards planted by the Romans in 125 BC.  The AOC was established back in 1937 and covers over 171 communes from the north side of the Rhone Valley to the south side.  It makes up 46% of the production of Rhone Valley wines predominantly red wines at 84%, followed by rose wines 10% and white wines 6%.   

Red wines under the Cotes du Rhone AOC require at least 30% Grenache with a blend of Mourvedre and Syrah totaling at least 70%.  White wines must be made of at least 80% Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Bourboulenc and Clairette.   


Cotes du Rhones Villages AOC 

One of the major different between Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhones Villages are that with Villages there are stricter regulations set in terms of alcohol minimum, stricter yields allowing for a higher quality wine typically that are more terroir driven.  The Cotes du Rhone Villages AOC was created in 1967 and spans 95 villages only located in the southern Rhone with 21 villages allowed to be listed on the label.  It makes up about 11% of the Rhone Valley’s production with red wines dominating at 96% followed by a small percentage of whites and rose.


The blends vary slightly in the Cotes du Rhones Villages AOC with a higher percentage of Grenache at 40%, at least 25% Syrah and Mourvedre and no more than 20% Cinsault, Carignan and Camarese.  The whites are the same regulations at the Cotes du Rhone. 

The Wines 

Although I paired my red wines across a couple dishes I did also want to share one of the white Cotes du Rhone wines that I tried.   

Cotes du Rhone wines

Domaine Ogier was founded back in 1859 by Antoine Ogier.  Their 2018 Domaine Ogier Artesis Cotes du Rhone AOC was brightly straw colored with golden hues.  Quite aromatic of pineapple, green apple and pears.  These flavors carried through to the palate with added citrus notes.  A fresh wine with bright acidity and a lingering finish with a touch of pleasing bitterness.  This wine spent 4 months on the lees.  It’s made of 40% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette, 20% Roussanne and 20% Viognier. SRP $17 ABV 13% . 

Domaine Paul Autard is managed by Jean-Paul Autard whom followed in his father’s footsteps, Paul, that started the winery in the 70’s.  Today he runs it with his daughter Pauline.  Their 2018 Domaine Paul Autard Cotes du Rhones AOC was ruby color with rich aromatics of black cherry and blackberries.  A rich, darker fruit profile on the palate with some black pepper and spice.    Good acid with firm tannins on the finish.  The wine ferments 25 days in stainless steel and vinified separate before blending in January into stainless steel.  The wine is made up of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre from 45-75 year old vines. 

My favorite pick of the tasting was the 2015 Xavier Vignon Arcane XIX Le Soleil Cotes du Rhones Villages AOC.  Deep ruby in color with black cherry and red licorice on the nose.  I loved the depth of this wine and the lush fruits with a silkiness on the finish.   This wine is made 80% from 80+ year old vine Grenache along with 10% of both Syrah and Mourvedre from 50+ year old vines.  The wine is aged 15 months in 1/3 new Austrian oak, 1/3 concrete and 1/3 vats.  Quite the delight.  ABV 15% SRP $29. 

Lastly was another favorite featuring the 2018 Domaine La Decelle Reserve Cotes du Rhone Villages Valreas AOC.  This winery was established only in 2010 and as you’ll see from the label is in Valreas.  This wine is made of 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah.  Deep ruby in color with purple highlights.  Some spice on the nose, black cherry and raspberries.  Surprisingly I didn’t find the body of this wine as heavy as the others.  Good acidity with the tannins and vanilla notes showing on the finish.  ABV 15% SRP $14. 

The Pairing 

I prepared a couple dishes this week to pair with the Cotes du Rhone red wines.  The white I just drank for enjoyment!  My first pairing was sausage stuffed ravioli I purchased from Trader Joe’s and I prepared a sauce with ground sausage to go with it.  Although all the wines went well with the dish the 2018 Domaine La Decelle Reserve Cotes du Rhone Villages Vilreas went nicely.   

Sausage ravioli paired with Cotes du Rhone
I also slow cooked a beef stew mid-week with carrots in a red wine, beef broth base with added worcestershire sauce.  This went particularly well with the 2015 Xavier Vignon Arcane XIX Le Soleil Cotes du Rhones Villages.  These wines were quite hearty and with the tannic structure behind them they seemed to lend well to the beef and sausage.  In researching ideal wine pairings with Cotes du Rhone it recommended game meat, which I could see pairing very well to these wines I tasted.   

Beef stew pairing with Cotes du Rhone

Join my fellow food and wine lovers as they take you through their personal journey of the Cotes du Rhone with selected food and wine pairings.  Join us live on Twitter this Saturday at 11am EST @ #Winophiles.  See you there!

*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.