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Surprising Gems from the Rh?ne Valley


C?tes du Rh?ne wines sit at the bottom of France's Rh?ne Valley hierarchy. Perhaps that's because a lot of the wines made there are oxidized, overly alcoholic, and just plain out of balance. Even so, some worthy wines are produced in the region. Here are a few of them, all ready to drink upon release; they go well with a wide variety of cuisines.

89 POINTS

E. Guigal 2005 C?tes du Rh?ne.Half syrah and half grenache, this full-bodied blend has notes of berries and a dash of pepper. Enjoy this velvety wine over the next three to four years. $11-$13

89 POINTS

Domaine Gramenon 2005 C?tes du Rh?ne La Sagesse.The elegant 2005 exhibits a dark ruby/purple color and hints of menthol mixed with Proven?al herbs and black cherry, raspberry, and currant notes. $18

89 POINTS

Domaine La R?m?jeanne 2005 C?tes du Rh?ne-Villages Les Eglantiers.Made entirely from syrah, the wine is filled with aromas and flavors of blackberries and cassis. Enjoy it over the next two to three years. $25

90 POINTS

Saint-Cosme 2006 C?tes du Rh?ne Les Deux Albions.This delicious wine has a sweet nose of peppery blackberry and cassis, with hints of flowers and tropical fruits. It is meant for drinking in its first three or four years. $13

91 POINTS

Domaine de la Janasse 2006 C?tes du Rh?ne Les Garrigues.Made mostly from old-vine grenache, this wine exhibits spectacular black raspberry and kirsch notes, along with licorice, smoked herbs, and meat juices. $21

90 POINTS

Domaine du Caillou 2005 C?tes du Rh?ne Bouquet des Garrigues.This dark, spicy, peppery effort reveals notes of lavender, roasted herbs, and kirsch liqueur. Drink it over the next five to six years. $25

90 POINTS

Domaine Grand Veneur 2005 C?tes du Rh?ne-Villages Les Champauvins.This wine has hints of licorice, kirsch liqueur, raspberries, and loads of fruit in a luscious style. It should drink well for four to five years. $17

91 POINTS

Ch?teau de Beaucastel 2005 C?tes du Rh?ne Coudoulet.Notes of tapenade, licorice, smoked herbs, and meat juices are mixed with black cherry. This wine will provide pleasure over the next decade or more. $25

93 POINTS

Ch?teau Rayas 2005 C?tes du Rh?ne Fonsalette.This blockbuster wine has notes of black truffle, black currant, licorice, sweet cherry, and flowers. It will be at its best from 2010 to 2025. $56

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

Robert M. Parker Jr. is a wine columnist for BusinessWeek arguably the most influential wine critic in the world today .

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