If France is my favorite wine producing country (and this is tough given my penchant for Italian and Spanish wines…), then the Rhone is probably my favorite region within France. The originator of the wine that smacked me square in the forehead and started me on my wine journey 28 years ago, the Rhone is a region steeped in history and amazing wine. This has certainly been true over the last decade, as the Rhone has had a string of near perfect vintages stretching back to 1994, save one – 2002. The one downside to all these great vintages is that the Rhone is no longer a region of consistent value. Prices have escalated and what used to be a fine $9 – $10 Cotes du Rhone is now $15 – $20. The wine is still great, the prices not so much… I have posted the occasional find in two recent vintages 2007 and 2009, both regarded as exceptional vintages on a par with the near perfect 1998 vintage and now 2010 wines are making their way to market. Regarded as a very good vintage, 2010 is quietly being referred to by some critics as a “shadow vintage,” meaning that it is following in the shadow of a truly memorable and massively-hyped vintage: 2009. The benefits to a shadow vintage are that the quality is usually very good with somewhat moderate prices and great availability.

Two recent finds are:

2010 Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhone $14.99 (approximate retail)

Earthy nose with dense tarry fruit hints and anise and dried mint leaves. Full-bodied with firm acidity and moderate tannin – good balance. Fruit forward palate with dark berry notes – herbaceous – youthful. Moderate length with a smooth, layered finish. Drinking well – should hold for 3 to 5 years.

2010 Domaine la Garrigue Cuvée Romaine $14.99 (approximate retail)

Fresh, fruity nose with dried herbs and floral hints. Full-bodied with moderate acidity and supple tannin – good balance. Youthful, fresh cherry palate with tar, rose attar and allspice notes – exotic. Moderate length with a persistently herbaceous finish. Smooth. Drinking well now – should hold for 2 to 3 years.