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Hello wine lovers and happy Wednesday to you!

Last Thursday I was invited to attend a session on Rhône Valley Wines at Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar located in the Sutton Place Hotel.  Led by the regional ambassador, Anthony Taylor, the participants seated around three long tables were given an overview of the Rhône region, grape varieties and how blending these varieties is key to the regions’ success – specifically in the southern Rhône.

Rhône Valley wine is the second largest AOP (AOC) in France and a bottle of Rhône Valley wine is enjoyed once every 12 seconds around the world!  The Côtes du Rhône Villages wine region covers 95 communes and 18 of these communes can use their name on their wine label.


The main black grape varieties of the Rhône are Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault.  The main white grapes are Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne.  A quick and easy break down of what each of the above grape delivers:

  • Syrah – red and black berry fruits, pepper spice, has medium plus tannin and is rich in flavour
  • Grenache – used for rosé and red wines, juicy fruit, blackcurrant and strawberry
  • Mourvèdre – deep in colour, big body and structure, blackberry, leather, garrigue and spice
  • Cinsault – low acid, great for rosé, fruity berry flavours
  • Viognier – apricot, quince, mango, iris flowers and almond flavours with low acidity
  • Marsanne – medium acid, floral and nutty notes
  • Roussanne – delicate, floral and honeysuckle

After the presentation, we were put into teams of six and given three bottles of wine.  We did not know who the producer was, instead, they were cleverly labeled bottles with a fact sheet on the grape variety inside the bottle.  We had Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre to work with and were asked to use at least 50% Grenache in the blend following the Côtes du Rhône Villages Appellation rules.


I found the interactive component of the session excellent.  The group I was in all wanted to beef up the percentage of Mourvèdre in the blend.  It was great. We got to try the other groups blends and, visually, could tell who used more Syrah because of the darker colour profile.

It was then time for lunch which consisted of many canapé items such as beef tartare, roasted lamb loin, braised beef short rib grilled cheese, quinoa salad and a cheesecake tart for dessert.  There was a ‘serve yourself’ bar of Rhône Valley wines to try with lunch so we could explore the food and wine pairings.

A great afternoon indeed.  A huge shout out to Anthony Taylor and Rhône Valley Wines for delivering a great, interactive and delicious event.  Some Rhône Valley wines to try?

  • M.Chapoutier ‘Les Meysonniers’ Crozes-Hermitage 2012 $26
  • Vignobles Michel Gassier ‘Jospeh Torres’, Costières de Nîmes 2011 $32
  • Maison Gabriel Meffre ‘Saint-Mapalis’, Côtes du Rhône Villages, 2013 $14