In the realm of esoteric wine appellations, Vinsobres is way up there.
Never heard of it? It turns out that this little-known pocket in the southern Rhône region of France produces some superb red wines. But until relatively recently, Vinsobres was not an appellation on its own, existing in wine-world obscurity as one of the villages folded into the broad “Côtes du Rhône Villages” appellation.
That changed in 2005, when the reds from Vinsobres gained individual appellation status. And for good reason, based on my tasting of Château de Rouanne’s 2018 Vinsobres, a classic southern Rhône blend of Grenache and Syrah, with a small percentage of Mourvèdre.
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This exciting young red, which you can find for around $29, is full of nervy energy — a refreshing, non-oaked wine fermented and aged in cement vats that shows wonderful purity of fruit and outstanding complexity. The grapes are from old vines, some planted as far back as 1950, which may account for the concentration of the fruit in the wine.
Like many Grenache-based wines I’ve tasted from France and Spain, I don’t miss the oak here, which is further testament to the fact that Grenache does quite well without barrel aging.
Aromas and tastes of dark fruits — blackberry, blueberry compote, black plum — are punctuated by notes of leather, wet stone, black pepper, and garrigue, the fragrant plants and herbs that are such an important part of the landscape in the south of France. Fine tannins make the wine smooth and effortless to drink. It will continue to mature and mellow for several years in the bottle, but I think you’ll find its youthful exuberance as irresistible as I did. Try it with well-seasoned meats, chicken, and vegetable dishes.