2017 Domaine Garon Côtes du Rhône La Part des Vivants

Wine that evaporates during winemaking before bottling is often called the angels’ share, thus what’s left is for us, the living or vivants. This fresh and clean blend of 70% Northern Rhône Syrah with 20% Grenache and 10% Carignan from around Cairanne and Rasteau improves with breathing in some oxygen over a few days. Initially a bit reduced in that Northern Rhône way suggesting smoky sulphurous incense, some bright raspberry fruit breaks out in a tart just ripe way. Underneath lurks some dark chocolate, a small bite of licorice and a pinch of brown spice. There’s also that Northern Rhône smoky typical something that perhaps is sort of incense like or earthy or rocky, beyond this limited power of description probably. By days deux and trois the fruit’s pungent and the mouth’s enjoying the ripe acidity and fine tannin. Would be a fine intro to the savoury bite of good cool Syrah. Nice drink for the angels who probably need one this time of year.

14% alcohol. Cork. $38.

93 points.

2010 Jean-Luc Colombo Saint Joseph Les Lauves

Not to be confused with the squinting cigar waving TV detective, M. Colombo has long been associated with a modern, techno approach to Northern Rhône Syrah including lavish amounts of new oak. Surprisingly this seems more traditionally restrained albeit nicely clean. Foresty dark red fruits, baking spices, smoke and a violet menthol lift. Resolved, round and savoury in flavour with good raspberry and cherry fading gently into crepuscular, lovely word, resolution. A quietly assured balance of fruit, savour, acid and tannin. Wouldn’t leave it much longer to linger in the cellar though.

13% alcohol. Cork. Lucky hugely discounted buy when the importer quit their remaining stock.

92 points.

2018 Famille Marcel Richaud Côtes du Rhône Les Buisserons

Sigh, last of the Paris buys worth a mention. From a caviste tucked away on a one way street close to Place de la Republique, overdue a visit and full of good choices like Richaud and Gramenon next to each other on the Rhône shelf. Despite some reservations about the former’s alcohol levels and ripeness in recent years, Marcel Richaud has often won this heart with the sheer depth of some great fruit turned into a rich, deeply flavoured mouthful. This one’s from a tricky hot year and neatly avoids overdoing it. Dry leathery skin flavours that seem almost Barossa like lead into still crunchy raspberry and cherry bright fruit. Maybe it’s the Carignan helping out the Grenache and Syrah with some good acidity? Real fruit weight, clean and naturally satisfying tannin and cut, honestly tasty. My visit on a atmospherically gloomy late afternoon in November interrupted the carving of a grand wheel of good Comte. Happy to stop and share warm thoughts about good bottles. Bonne adresse, as they Parisiens say. Delicatessen Cave, 136 rue Amelot 3er. Another visit please.

14.50% alcohol. Cork. 12 euros.

93 points.

2015 Château Courac Côtes du Rhône Villages Laudun

Jancis Robinson’s vintage reports for the Rhône in 2015 said Syrah was particularly good in the south and they were dead right on the evidence of this 50/50 blend with Grenache. Rounded delicious smells of violets, smoke and ripe raspberries and blackberries, all very reminiscent of a ripe Syrah from a bit further north. Clean mouthful of smoky dark berries, spice and well settled acidity, backed up by firm ripe skin tannins. A little bit washy through the finish but for a bargain from the shelves of Franprix, it’s astonishingly good. Beautifully made and consistent over two or was it three bottles? One seemed to end up in the basket at checkout whenever milk was the main purpose of a Franprix adventure.

13.50% alcohol. Cork. Absolute bargain territory, 8 euros!

92 points.

2018 La Chapelle de Mayran Côtes du Rhône Villages Lautan

There seems to be an increasing number of bio or organic wines on French supermarché shelves including this one from Monoprix for less than 8 euros. Sometimes Grenache seems at its most delicious when it’s only just been in a bottle for a few months. This is all clean, pungent and musky red fruit in a good way with oodles of spice and flowers. Sort of thing you’d love in a carafe in one of those imaginary Gallic bistros. Actually improved over 24 hours, beyond which it wasn’t going to last. Sweet Grenache given legs and some depth by the usual suspects of Syrah and Mourvèdre. Looks like it may be an own brand bottling as there’s not much more info available than what’s on the label. Makes trudging round the stupor market almost a pleasure.

13.50% alcohol. Cork. 8 euros.

90 points

2010 Domaine de la Renjarde Massif d’Uchaux Côtes du Rhône Villages Reserve de Cassagne

Opened with a little trepidation as it approaches its ninth birthday, only to be surprised by a still vigorous red colour and a satisfying freshness. 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah with perhaps a touch of oak barrel, this looks more like a CNdP than a CdR. Really lovely soft kirsch and chocolate fruit, only a hint of scrubby herb and well melded tannin and acid. A little judicious pepper seasoning. Very much a polished version of a rustic Rhône but no less delicious for the haircut and a bit of education. No superfluous bling, just well brought up sense of place. Very happy to have a few more.

14% alcohol. Cork. Can’t remember exactly how much but a ludicrous bargain in the wholesaler’s annual clearance sale. Wish they still did them!

93 points but especially a good thing.

2015 Lavau Côte du Rhône Villages

A blend of half Grenache and half Syrah from a brilliant Rhone vintage which, as Jancis so astutely noted, produced some great Syrah. Opens with some briar and spice from short bottle age and perhaps a bit of oak. Over three days this savoury edge gave way to lots of clean, dark cherry and plum conserve. Not really jammy but more like a fresher cooked fruit flavour. The spice mellowed into Rhône herbiness and fine allspice with some dark cocoa powder. The quality of the vintage is pretty obvious. Good to see a relatively large producer make something that’s typically Rhône whilst keeping it clean and screwcapped. Good game of Rhônes, sorry, over done pun already.

14% alcohol. Screwcap, hooray! $20, bargain.

91 points.