First compared in June 2007, these are an interesting change of pace for most people, having flavors and textures that are very different from your standard Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.
Two of our wines were the exact same bottling, and though they shared some similar qualities, none of our tasters were insightful enough to detect the repetition. Only two points separated the top wine with the second-place bottle, and four different wines received first place votes. All were from the excellent 2015 vintage.
First Place: Saint Cosme Côte du Rhône Blanc 2015. Smells fresh, like freshly cut herbs, grass, green apple, peach, and freesia. Resa noted that it was a "Jolly Rancher style green apple." Had a honeysuckle note. Mouthwatering. Tasty in the mouth, with a little bit of a wax quality, then limestone and ripe red apples. Black pepper and eucalyptus on the finish. Ali felt that it was like "syrup at the bottom of an aluminum can", while Andy noted that it "starts out loud and then changes." Ali summed up with "Summer on the nose, fall on the palate." Andy R's favorite of the night, and everyone else's second favorite. Received 26 points. Ali's bottle. About $22.
Second Place: Guigal Côte du Rhône Blanc 2015. Bright and happy, with scents of tangerine, grass, citrus rinds, limes, and green apple. Andy noted that "It's like a greeter at Walmart -- it's happy to see you." Ali felt that it "smells like it will be effervescent." A bit heavier body initially, but then slips right to the back of your mouth, with lemon and butter flavors. David felt that the "nose is bright and fresh, but it's a richer taste." Ali decided that "it's one note, but it's a good note." Some woodiness on the finish. Resa and Kristin's favorite. Received 24 points. Resa's bottle. About $15.
Third Place: Brotte Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc Les Hauts de Barville 2015. Shy aromatics led David to describe this as "like an empty box", while Andy found notions of "canned peach water." Other tasters detected scents of white peach and dirty sponge. Honeysuckle, dried herb, tea, and orange flavors, with a somewhat short finish. Resa decided that "I've forgotten that I drank it." Some tarragon and limestone notes. Very subtle. David and Andy P felt that it gained complexity with air and eventually voted for it as their favorite. David's bottle. About $30.
Guigal Côte du Rhône Blanc 2015. Tasters found aromas similar to green apples, butter, and potato starch. Chewy in the mouth, it hits the palate with intensity, but doesn't do much else. Good texture and mouthfeel. Very even, with a powdery aftertaste. David felt that "It's simple but pleasing", and Resa noted that "I feel like chewing this wine." Everyone wanted it to be a bit more complex. Ali's favorite. Received 15 points. Andy R's bottle. About $15.
Yves Cuilleron Marsanne Les Vignes d'a Cote 2015 (Collines Rhodaniennes). Looks a little effervescent, and smells like sparkling cider. Andy P immediately exclaimed "Oh wow!", with Ali finding "powder on spearmint gum." Others detected scents of sweet apple. Primary. A pattern developed here, with tasters describing flavors of apple cinnamon and apple pie a la mode. Subtle and delicate. More apples on the finish, along with artificial vanilla. Resa was reminded of "Absolutely apple yogurt." Received one point. Kristin's bottle. About $25.
Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Blanc Nobles Rives 2015. Made from 100% Marsanne, tasters were not happy with this wine's aromatics, finding notions of urine, shoe rubber, mothballs, leather jacket, pond water, dirty subway, farts, and sulfur. Kristin was reminded of a "vintage store, like dust and perfume." Sour in the mouth, with a bready, cheesy quality, like bad dairy, seaweed, and salt. Ali felt that "it's stealing the saliva from my mouth", and Andy R decided that "it's not what I want in wine." Andy P was "drawn to it like a wolf spider", and Ali noted that "it doesn't belong in your mouth." Weird finish. No points. Andy P's wine. About $19.