With oceans of Côtes du Rhône churned out of this large regional appellation in southern France, finding bottles with real character is hit or miss.
One that “hits” is the widely available Famille Perrin 2017 Côtes du Rhône-Villages. The Perrin family is one of the largest and best-known producers in the southern Rhône Valley, with a range that extends from Château de Beaucastel and its famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape, all the way down to the ubiquitous La Vielle Ferme line of under-$10 wines.
Its Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône-Villages is in that $15 sweet spot and offers great value, especially since the wine carries the “Villages” designation, meaning that the grapes come from a smaller, more select area within the Côtes du Rhône.
The wine is a classic blend of Grenache and Syrah, two of the southern Rhône’s top varieties. They come together here in a bright and easy-drinking wine that will be in its element with a range of foods, from pork and chicken dishes to grilled lamb and even salmon.
Red wines from the warm southern Rhône can lean toward the high-octane, but the Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône-Villages has a balanced elegance, with alcohol listed at a moderate 13.5 percent. Juicy dark berry and plum tastes are framed by smooth tannins and punctuated by a cedar note and some minerals on the lengthy finish.
The oak influence is subtle and just right; 25 percent of the wine is fermented and aged in large oak vats and 75 percent in concrete tanks. This makes it ready to enjoy now, although I found it even better a day later.
And drink it cool (but not cold). Just as white wines are often served too cold, which conceals their flavors, red wines are often served too warm, which can make them seem ponderous. A 15-minute chill in the refrigerator should give an ideal temperature. The bottom line on Perrin’s Côtes du Rhône-Villages: It’s versatile and tasty; a top value for $15.