Côte Rôtie - Spectacular scenery, often spectacular wine
Côte Rôtie is a classic red wine made in the northern part of the Rhône valley of southeastern France from the Syrah grape variety. It may include up to 20% Viognier as well. The Syrah supplies earthy, peppery tastes, which the Viognier softens. Connaisseurs will be able to distinguish from grapes grown on the Côte Brune (Brunette Hill) and those grown on the Côte Blonde (Blond Hill). Suggested food pairings include Roast Duck and tomato-based Fish Stew.
Côte Rôtie starts at about $30 a bottle. A moderately priced (for this wine) is the Chapoutier Côte Rôtie. I have just seen a 1996 on-line for about $42. This gamy, acidic wine tastes of bramble berries, spices, and oak. If you want to step up try the plummy, peppery Guigal Côte Brune and Blonde Côte Rôtie at about twice the price. And if money is no object, go for the Guigal Côte Rôtie La Mouline for about $330. This is a single vineyard product and is about as good as Syrah wines get. It tastes of aramel, cola, bacon fat, litchi nuts, and honeysuckle along with the cassis and sweet cherry fruit. You can age Côte Rôtie wines for ten to twenty-five years.