2018 Domaine de Verquière, Cotes du Rhone, Rhone Valley, France.
One of my favorite comfort wines is a nice Grenache based Cotes du Rhone and will the prices of solid wines from there being insanely reasonable it makes for a guilt free, but serious delicious experience, with wines like this tasty Domaine de Varquière being great values. Coming from Sablet area, not far from Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas and set on classic stony and sandy vineyard sites with clay and limestone soils, Romain and Thibaut Chamfort’s small estate, as the winery notes, played a very active part in gaining recognition for wines in this region even helping to create the Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet appellation back in 1974. This 2018 Domaine de Verquière Cotes du Rhone Rouge is a tank raised blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, with all the grapes being carefully sorted and de-stemmed that was fermented with temperature control with about two weeks of maceration to extract its brilliantly dark color and depth of flavors. This well made and quality Cotes du Rhone joins Sant Cosme and Delas Freres in bang for the buck league and expresses perfectly the sense of place, it is a wine that asks little and gives a lot.

The lush Grenache led palate of the Verquière Cotes du Rhone feels full and dense with an array of dark berry fruits and is lightly spicy with touches of pepper, cinnamon and licorice as well as delicate floral notes, grilled herbs and a touch of earthiness from the Syrah making for a pure and pleasing red wine to go with almost any food choice, especially simple country cuisine, BBQ’s and or just burgers and or pastas. Gaining depth in the glass this 2018 performs solidly and its inviting purple/garnet color brings a smile too, air and food bring out blackberry, plum, boysenberry and kirsch layering. This Rhone red comes in at a healthy 14.5% natural alcohol, but doesn’t get flabby or does the heat make itself obvious with the ripeness giving more mouthfeel and the impression of more expensive wine. Being in the foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail range Verquière’s 45 hectors of vines get some Mistral like cool breezes and that helps keep things balanced and even elegant even in their basic entry level offering. Thibaut, who trained in California and in South Africa, has crafted a yummy Rhone at a delightful price that I highly recommend stocking up on! This fun stuff is a great way to stay on that healthy Mediterranean diet, its dusty fruits, scent of lavender and dried violets make it hard not to love.
($12 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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