Monday, February 11, 2008

Battle of the Rhône's

So I wanted to see how close one of the prominent "Rhône Rangers" of California could come to an honest-to-god French Rhône wine, so I hopped on down to Nob Hill and bought a Rosenblum Château La Paws Côte Du Bone Roan and the only Appellation Côtes du Rhône Contrôlée that they stocked - a Cellier des Dauphins Prestige Côtes du Rhône.



Dauphins: The plastic capsule encased a synthetic cork that left no tattoo.
Rosenblum: The foil capsule enclosed a synthetic cork that also left no tattoo.


Dauphins: Squat, lightweight, puntless pale green bottle. Not in the Rhône shape, but with an embossment that is typical of Rhône bottles.
Rosenblum: Traditional y shaped Rhône bottle in a heavy, dark green glass and a deep punt.


Dauphins: Typical French labeling; no indication of what varietals are in the wine, only what varietals might be in the wine, and then only if you memorized the AOC rule list.
Rosenblum: Rear label gives varietals, but not ratios. Some tasting notes provided.


Dauphins:Their English language version of the site for this wine is targeted at the UK market, and it's not clear if the wine is the same in both markets. The UK info is good - even giving pounds of fruit used in fermentation.
Rosenblum: Detailed PDF that expands upon what is on the rear label

The Tasting

Initially, both wines smell very similar, after a swirl the Dauphins came out on top with more earthy smells in the aroma. The Rosenblum had a richer colour. The Rosenblum had a classic syrah burnt rubber on the tongue, but over all the Dauphins was better balanced (this is supposed to be a blend, not a Syrah dominated wine), and improved over the hours sitting in my glass. After leaving both wines overnight, the Dauphins was still better than the Rosenblum which got a little sour.

The Verdict:

While neither is great; The French wine wins.
Vintner:Cellier des Dauphins
Varietals:Grenache, Syrah, Cinsaut, Carignane, Counoise, Mourvèdre
Appellation/Terrior:Appellation Côtes du Rhône Contrôlée, France
Alcohol:13% by Volume

Varietals:Carignane, Syrah, Zinfandel, Mourvèdre
Alcohol:14.9% by Volume

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