jamie goode's wine blog: A perfect summer's evening with two Rhones

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A perfect summer's evening with two Rhones

It's one of those rare evenings in the UK that I just love so much. Warm enough, and still light enough, to sit outside even at 9.30 pm. And part of the reason it is so exciting for me this evening is that it's the first time in quite a while we haven't been in a domestic conflict setting.

As regular readers of this blog will know, our two lads were adopted some eight years ago. They had a rough start, and so it's been great to grow this family together, even though it has been tough work. Sadly, elder son has always been the more troubled, and of late his troubles have intensified to the point where he is throwing enormous tantrums both morning and evening. I guess this is understandable given the bad early experiences. You can cope more easily with tantrums from a toddler because of their size; when it's a big 11 year old, it's trickier. Today, though, he went to stay overnight at Fiona's mum's, and in his place, Louis has a friend to stay. Suddenly, it's like living in a normal family. We went for a long walk with the dog along the Thames, and then came back and they've played happily since. Fiona and I feel like different people.

I cooked this evening. An improvised, simple recipe that involved using lots of tomato, lots of olive oil, lots of garlic, lots of parmesan and a bit of sea salt, served over spagghetti. To accompany it, two Rhones. The first, from Chapoutier, is OK, but like many Chapoutier wines, underdelivers slightly. The second, from Domaine Richaud, is just fantastic: dense, generous, pure and really more-ish.

Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Petite Ruche 2005 Northern Rhone, France
This northern Rhone Syrah is bright, fresh and juicily vibrant, with focused raspberry-tinged fruit as well as a subtle peppery meatiness. There's good fresh acidity here, and it's nicely savoury, but it does taste quite light and commercial when compared with more serious Crozes Hermitage. A useful food wine, I'd buy this if the price was right - around 6. 84/100 (Waitrose)

Domaine Richaud Cairanne 2006 Cotes du Rhone Villages, France
A dark, concentrated Southern Rhone wine, this is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan. The nose is ripe, meaty, peppery and quite pure. The palate is dense with lovely sweet blackberry and raspberry fruit combining well with a savoury, spicy, slightly reductive streak. There's some lushness here (it's 14.5% alcohol), but it avoids being over-ripe. The most impressive aspect is the concentration and purity of the fruit. With its richness, this could almost be a new world Syrah, but if it was, it would be one of the very best because it's still really well balanced and quite elegant. 92/100 (this was around 10 Euros from a Paris wine shop)

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