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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

This Southern (Rhone) Wine Can Withstand The Heat

Les Dauphins Cotes du Rhone Reserve Rouge 2015, France

Cost: $12-14

For summer sipping in the South you might want to turn to a southern wine: Cotes du Rhone from Southern France.

Grapes grown in the Rhone Valley can withstand the hot sun that bakes them. Cool winds from the Alps blow through the valley to help slow down the ripening process and help create complex flavors. This is a true southern wine made in a hot climate.

There are all kinds of Cotes du Rhone wines, and they come in a wide range of prices. So it is especially nice to find a high quality wine like Les Dauphins at such a good price.

In the glass it is a beautiful ruby red color with fragrances of red fruit and blackcurrent. The flavors are rich and juicy, like digging into a summer fruit cocktail, with a hint of black pepper. The fruit is fresh and in your face, but it is not jammy or cloying. It is refreshing.

The Les Dauphins style is elegant, with soft tannins and everything in balance. It has a silky mouthfeel and a long, smooth finish.

This is not a wine to cellar. It should be drunk young to capture the fresh fruit explosion. It is probably better for a fun dinner with friends than for a fancy dinner party. I would serve this slightly chilled for the summer, though I think it also would be enjoyable at room temperature on a chilly winter night.

Typical of Cotes du Rhone wines this is a GSM blend–grenache 70 percent, syrah 25 percent and mourvedre 5 percent. Most Cotes du Rhone wines from the Southern Rhone are blends that rely heavily on grenache. That helps give this wine its freshness.

The label looks like it comes from the 1920s when Les Dauphins wines became popular in Paris bistros.

Because there is such a wide range of Cotes du Rhone wines, you have to be careful because regulations there allow a lot of experimentation. Not all of those experiments turn out as well as the Les Dauphins, a wine cooperative that has been around a long time.

The grapes come from parcels throughout the region. After total destemming they go through traditional fermentation with regular pump overs for 15 days. The wine finishes maturation in concrete tanks.

Winery: Les Dauphins is really a collective of growers and winemakers in the Dauphiné region of the Rhone Valley in southern France. In the 1920s family winemakers in the region met in Paris and decided to join forces to produce wine that would match bistro food.

Bistros were all the rage in Paris, which was then regarded as the artistic and intellectual capital of Europe. Writers, painters and musicians met in bustling bistros to share and discuss their ideas over simple food and great wine. Ordinary people loved to show up and rub elbows with the glitterati.

The Dauphiné wines were popular in the bistros because of their fruit forward style, rich flavors and the way they paired with so many classic bistro dishes.

New generations of winemakers and growers in the Southern Rhone Valley make their version of bistro wine from traditional Rhone varietals: grenache, syrah and mourvedre. These bistro wines enjoyed a revival in the 1990s and remain popular. The winemakers hope their wines inspire the joie de vivre that became the hallmark of 1920s Paris.

The current winemakers do more than just copy the 1920s formula; they have created many exciting blends. The New York International Wine Challenge names Les Dauphins the Rhone winery of the year in 2015 and 2016.

The Rhone is a long, narrow valley formed by the Rhone River. It produces wild, vibrant, approachable wines. It is difficult to compare Rhone wines to those from other regions because they have so many powerful flavors yet drink so beautifully. One respected wine writer calls Rhones “the wine equivalent of a primal scream.”

There are two sub-regions, north and south. The Northern Rhone is steep and rocky and usually considered more prestigious. The Southern Rhone grows most of the wine grapes and is more well known. It has a Mediterranean climate with hot sun, chilly Mistral winds and wild herbs growing everywhere.

Although 19 grapes are permitted in Rhone wine, the GSM blend dominates the region. It has been so popular that GSM wines are showing up in blends around the world.

Les Dauphins also makes a reserve rosé, reserve white, organic red, organic rosé, organic white, Cotes du Rhone Villages organic red, Cotes du Rhone Villages Grande Reserve red and rosé, Cotes du Rhone Villages Saint Maurice, Cotes du Rhone Villages Puyméras red, Cotes du Rhone Villages Visan red, Cotes du Rhone Villages Massif D’Uchaux, Cru des Cotes du Rhone Vinsobres, Sparkling Blanc de Blancs and Sparkling Cuvee Rosé.

Goes with: We had this with grilled pork chops and baked potatoes. It was a great summer meal because I didn’t actually have to cook it the night we ate it. I helped Clint Bryant cook the chops a few days before, so these were technically left overs.

Every year when Augusta University athletes return to school Clint puts on a big cookout for them. This year he made pork chops and chicken leg quarters. My son Michael and I joined Clint and a couple of other cooking buddies, Little John and Roscoe. I always love cooking with those guys because we have a lot of fun while we cook, talking and catching up on each other’s lives. And I always learn something.

Clint cooks the chops and chicken at a low temperature for a couple of hours, basting them with his mop sauce made from apple cider vinegar, water, kosher salt, Morton’s Nature Seasons, red pepper flakes and garlic. The mop sauce keeps the meat moist and gives the meat a nice, tangy flavor.

We also had a couple of Georgia Boy sausages left from the cook out, and they are wonderful. Rich and spicy and not at all greasy.

The Les Dauphins wine was perfect with this meal. The light, fruity flavors of the wine played off the rich meat and spices from the food.

This wine also would go well with many types of meat, including roasts, grilled chicken, rich casseroles, cheeses and salads.

Clint samples the chicken while he and Roscoe flip them over.

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