For decades, Côtes du Rhône has been among France’s top wine values. The sprawling appellation in the Rhône Valley produces an ocean of red wine, mostly under $20. The quality of the bottles ranges from the nondescript and industrial, to sublime, idiosyncratic offerings from tiny producers. Somewhere in the middle is E. Guigal’s Côtes du Rhône, which is always reliable but soars in the 2016 vintage.
Perhaps because it’s had a few years of bottle age, the 2016 is mellow and delicious at this point. It’s a full-bodied wine with 14.5 percent alcohol, but the high alcohol doesn’t dominate.
At about $15 or so, it’s well worth considering as cooler weather approaches and whets our appetites for heartier foods and bigger wines. This is a wine for all kinds of grilled and roasted meats, but it will also pair well with everything from pizza to tacos.
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The blend is 50 percent Syrah, 40 percent Grenache, and 10 percent Mourvèdre, and for me, the Syrah seems to dominate, providing, among other things, good underlying acidity that gives the wine a nice lift. Aromas of red and dark berries, herbs, and wet stone are followed on the palate by generous blackberry and boysenberry, framed by supple tannins and more of the stony minerality that’s one of the signatures of the wine in this vintage.
While Guigal has been celebrated for such wines as its Côte-Rôties from its own vineyards, as a leading négociant it also produces wines from appellations and vineyard sourced throughout the northern and southern Rhône. It works with 80 growers for the large-production Côtes du Rhône, which has an annual production of around 4 million bottles.
Guigal’s 2016 Côtes du Rhône demonstrates the consistency of a wine that has become almost synonymous with the appellation — and is especially memorable in this vintage.