Côtes du Rhône is a great cold-weather wine, perfect for hearty stews and roasts that call for substantial reds. The appellation is the largest in terms of area in the Rhône Valley in southeast France and accounts for the biggest share of its production. While the wines often represent good values for everyday drinking, some of them rise well above that level.
One that stands out is the 2017 Côtes du Rhône “Le Temps Est Venu” from Stephane Ogier, a producer in the tiny and prestigious Côte-Rôtie appellation in the northern Rhône. While Côte-Rôtie wines are made almost entirely from Syrah and are often priced in the $100 range or higher, Ogier’s 2017 Côtes du Rhône can be purchased for less than $20 and is a blend of 60 percent Grenache, 35 percent Syrah, and 5 percent Mourvèdre.
The blend is typical of Côtes du Rhône, and its high proportion of Grenache makes the wine suitable for drinking on the younger side. Ogier’s 2017 Côtes du Rhône is at once fresh and mature, with ripe dark fruit notes of blackberry and cassis punctuated by earthy minerality, roasted meat, and chocolate.
It’s aged for 10 months in concrete tanks and receives no exposure to oak. This, combined with its vibrant acidity, makes it a distinctive and refreshing wine that will pair seamlessly with beef, lamb, roasted chicken, and other hearty dishes.
Côtes du Rhône accounts for 46 percent of the Rhône Valley’s production area, with hundreds of producers churning out the wines — the vast majority of them red. As with other large growing regions such as Bordeaux, you have to weed through the many wines of Côtes du Rhône to find those that rise above the ordinary. Stephane Ogier’s 2017 Côtes du Rhône “Le Temps Est Venu” is one that hits the mark. As its name suggests, “the time has come” to give it a try.