You’ve probably heard of the Rhone Valley in France – Vacqueyras is one of the small village-centered subdistricts of the Cotes du Rhone wine region. Along with the neighboring village of Gigondas, it’s often referred to as “the poor man’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape.” Vacqueyras is only a few miles down the road from Avignon, and produces great Rhone blends that are both hearty and sophisticated, for a fraction of what Chateauneuf-du-Pape costs.
Tonight I’ve got a recently purchased Vacqueyras (pronounced VAH-kay-rah) to go with salad and leftover pizza. I’m eager to see what this is like – a good Vacqueyras is a perfect thing to drink all winter long with beef stew, chili, pot roast, and other stick-to-your-ribs cold-weather fare. Vacqueyras must contain at least 50% Grenache, with the rest usually a combination of Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault.
Caves Saint-Pierre (2011) Vacqueyras, France – $13
Aroma: spicy and brambly, with some herb notes – what the French call ‘garrigue‘ – followed up by dark plum and berry fruit. There’s even a touch of chocolate and tar as this opens up.
Taste: harmonious, with berry fruit leading off and then transitioning into herb and spice notes. It has a final blast of fruit, before settling in to a gently tannic and spicy finish. This has good texture, the right acidity for food, and a good mouthfeel.
An top-notch Rhone for $13. Make sure you drink this at cellar temperature (55º to 65º F). Recommended.