This was our third comparison of red Côtes du Rhônes, and our second focused on a single vintage (the last was of the great 2009s). We completed this one very happy with the 2015 vintage, agreeing that all the wines were at a minimum of good, with our best examples showing real complexity, great textures, and overall balace.
Our winner was the only bottle with village designation, and was also the best value at only $12. The second place finisher was uniformly enjoyed, and the only one over $20.
First Place: Brotte Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne 2015. Tasters found complex scents of men's cologne, pine forest, campfire, damp sleeping bag, luxurious cherries, dairy, salty sea, squid ink, iodine, and dishwashing gloves. Great texture and balance to the berry and the darker notes, with excellent mounthfeel, having hints of lemon rind. Masculine, spicy tannin, finishing with crushed up dark spices. Everyone except for Matt gave this some points, and was the favorite of Ali, Andy, and Kristin, for a total of 26 points. Diana's bottle. About $12.
Second Place: Perrin Côtes du Rhône Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2015. Fuity dark chocolate, pomegrantae, dishwater, and dried lavender aromas, with a metallic note. Spices in the mouth, perhaps cinnamon, with good texture and acidity, showing a little tannin. Pez candy and jamon on the mid-palate. A slightly short finish, with soap and celery notes. Ali noted that it "feels like a dancing Spanish lady on the attack, but then leaves". Received points from everyone at the table for a total of 17. Ali's bottle. About $32.
Third Place (tie): Nicolas Boiron Côtes du Rhône 2015. Like sidewalk chalk, bubbly gum, Comet, and figs on the nose, this was overtly fruity. Burning embers on the attack, this was pleasant, with no hard edges, and not a ton of complexity, offering flavors of vanilla ice cream. Weak finish, hinting at chlorine. Diana felt that it was "a little naïve." A crowdpleasing style, one that does not demand contemplation. Received points from everyone except for Kristin, and was Diana's favorite, totalling 16 altogether. Andy's bottle. About $14.
Third Place (tie): Clos du Mont-Olivet Côtes du Rhône Vieilles Vignes 2015. Intense nose, reminiscent of grape Jolly Rancher, prunes, iron shavings, smoke, toffee, wild berries, blackberries, wet leaves, black currant, root vegetables, and rhubarb. We're guessing there's more Syrah in this one. Inky intensity to the palate, with plenty of tannin, offering blackberry fruits, iodine/pen ink, cloves, and black licorice. Teeth clinging tannins. Ali felt that the "attack is weed, mid-palate is dark, finish is weed." Andy noted that it "feels like I'm eating the grape skin." Brooding. Matt and David's favorite. Received 16 points. David's bottle. About $18.
M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche 2015. Made from 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, this exhibited scents of wet wool, cranberries, leather, wet wipes, musk, skunk, flowers, and a pleasant funk. Kristin was reminded of "a man out in the rain in a wool sweater", with Diana adding "but in a meadow full of wildflowers", to which Andy chipped it, "he's been chopping wood all day." Ali felt it was reminiscent of "the super-nice Irish man." Good intensity to the palate, showing flavors of cola, spices, chocolate, crushed rocks, and salty smokey bacon. More savory than fruit forward, with some noticible tannin, along with dried thyme and ashtray. A masculine style, with some minerality on the finish. Received 6 points. Matt's bottle. About $14.
Paul Autard Côtes du Rhône 2015. Tasters found aromas of walnuts, caramel, black licorice, black cherry, sumac, tar, and resin. Very dark, astringent, with some funk on it. Exuberant and fruity palate, like crushed cherries, but with good acidity, hinting at grapefruit, then finishes with black licorice and a little ashtray. An aluminum note emerges with air. Ali noted that it "feels like it's on my face." Made from 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre. Received 3 points from Andy. Kristin's bottle. About $14.