12 Cotes du Rhone wines that offer a range of styles and values

Wines from Cotes du Rhone are easy to find and represent great value. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

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Wines from Cotes du Rhone are easy to find and represent great value. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Cotes du Rhone wines do not have the prestige of the Rhone Valley’s storied wines, but these bottles have a lot to offer.

These are not the wines of Cote-Rotie, Saint-Joseph, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage or Condrieu in the northern Rhone. And although the vast majority of Cotes du Rhone wines hail from southern Rhone, home to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Tavel, Cotes du Rhone wines are decidedly none of those, either.

Some Cotes du Rhone wines offer glimpses of what the above wines offer. But overall, Cotes du Rhone wines are simpler and more affordable. These are reds, whites and rosés carrying the general, regional Cotes du Rhone AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) designation. You could call the wines of Cotes du Rhone “everyday wines,” as they often linger in the neighborhood of $15, give or take.

The “Cotes” in Cotes du Rhone is pronounced like “coat,” and it translates to “coasts,” or perhaps more accurately “banks,” while the Rhone is the famous river that runs north-south through the region and down into the Mediterranean Sea near the city of Marseille. You won’t have much of a problem finding Cotes du Rhone wines, and once you find them, you might be surprised at how affordable they are.

Medium- to full-bodied, Cotes du Rhone reds are like the friend you greet with a hearty backslap. They can be jammy, earthy, spicy or all three, with notes of various berries, cherry, vanilla, pepper, licorice, plum, forest floor, pine, leather, chocolate, cedar, smoke, herbs or roasted meat. Match the reds with classic French bistro dishes, and lots of other foods that aren’t too precious — from burgers to barbecue.

The white wines can have a soft, round texture, delivering flavors like green apple or pear, stone fruits, minerality and a refreshing crispness.

These wines, in all three colors, are almost always blends of more than 20 allowable grape varieties. Reds and rosés are often based on grenache with syrah, mourvedre, cinsault and carignan (among others). Whites can be a combination of mainly marsanne, roussanne, viognier and grenache blanc.

About three out of every four bottles produced in the Rhone Valley are Cotes du Rhone wines, or Cotes du Rhone-Villages wines, a designation limited to wines produced in 18 specific villages, which can also be included on the label.

The low prices on these bottles allow for experimentation and discovery. Below are notes from a recent tasting of Cotes du Rhone wines. They are grouped by style (red, white and rosé) and listed in ascending order, according to price. Of the 12 wines, 10 of them ring up for $16 or less.


2014 Ferraton Pere & Fils Samorens Cotes du Rhone. This grenache-dominant blend offers raspberry and other red fruits along with white pepper, blueberry and spice. $14

2015 Domaine La Garrigue Cuvee Romaine Cotes du Rhone. This big wine tastes of berries, damp earth, forest floor, cigar box, pine needles and bright acidity. $15

2015 Michel Gassier?Cercius Cotes du Rhone. Tangy, rich and fresh, this old-vine wine is full of dark fruit, baking spices, herbs and blueberry. $15

2015 Xavier Vignon Cotes du Rhone. Silky, with luscious dark fruit, fennel, raspberry and a touch of tobacco, this one is worth every penny and more. $15

2015 Domaine La Manarine Cotes du Rhone. Jammy dark fruit mixed with notes of black olive, pencil shavings, cedar and tobacco in this lively winner. $16

2015?Domaine Les Aphillanthes Rouge Carmin Cotes du Rhone. Intense, stewed red and dark fruits are joined by nutmeg and black licorice in this rich wine. $16

2015 Domaine de la Mordoree Cotes Du Rhone. Red fruits, cherry, cedar, earth and chocolate comingled in this one, which packs 14 percent alcohol. $17

2015?Mas de Boislauzon Cotes du Rhone Villages. Plum, raspberry and other bright red fruits give way to notes of pine delivered with grippy tannins. $17.50


2015 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone. Beginning with floral notes and jasmine, this wine moves into apricot, minerality and subtle flashes of tropical fruit. $13

2015 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone. Pear, anise, fennel and green apple commingle in this soft wine, which finishes clean, with a touch of lemon. $15


2016 Chateau Beauchene Le Pavillon Cotes du Rhone. Herbal and floral with a long, rich strawberry finish, this rosé is made from cinsault and grenache. $12

2016 Domaine Les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone. This pale pink beauty offers crisp and subtle bursts of strawberry and watermelon, plus a long finish of almond and peach. $15

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