Posts Tagged Montirius Minéral

White delights: there’s more to southern Rhône than reds

First Published in The Irish Times, Saturday, 31st August, 2019

There is a richness and generosity to the wines that I really enjoy when I want something a little different


Earlier this year I spent four days tasting my way through scores of wines from the Rhône Valley. Although I enjoyed the red wines, in many cases it was the whites that stood out as really special. There is a richness and generosity to the wines that I really enjoy when I want something a little different. These are wines that grow and improve with food.

In the past some wines were a little too generous; too high in alcohol and lacking acidity and freshness. This has all changed, partly a result of better viticulture and winemaking, and partly by choosing the right places to plant vines; some parts of the Rhône Valley are at a relatively high altitude and can produce wines with good acidity to match the succulence and texture.

While the vast majority, more than 90 per cent, of the wines produced in the southern Rhône are red, there is growing interest in both white wines and rosé. A mere 4 per cent are rosé, and the remaining 6 per cent white; this may not sound like much, but when you remember the region produces more than half a million cases of wine each year, it means there are plenty of wines to try.

The grape varieties are more varied here than in the northern Rhône. As well as Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne, you will find Grenache Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Picpoul, Bourbelenc, Clairette and Vermentino, known here as Rolle. These are typically blended together to create individual wines with real character.

I mentioned food earlier, and these are great wines to match with more robust chicken and fish dishes, as well as those with creamy sauces. Barbecued chicken, crab cakes, seared scallops, creamy curries and chowders all work well, as do a lot of cheeses. Some hard cheeses are far better with Rhône whites than red wines.

Some of the best white appellations, such as Vacqueyras, Ventoux, and Valréas are not very well-known for either red or white. The one area I didn’t cover was Châteauneuf-du-Pape, home to some great long-lived white wines, although I tried a Chapoutier Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Bernadine 2017 that was explosively good. If you fancy a real treat, Searsons in Monkstown still has a few bottles of the Vacqueyras Blanc from Sang de Cailloux – €46.95 but worth every cent.

The easiest way to try out the white wines of the southern Rhône is to buy a bottle of basic white Côtes du Rhône the next time you go to the supermarket or wine shop; they can offer great value for money. Most of the big names, such as Jaboulet, Chapoutier, Délas, Ferraton and Guigal offer a range, and most are well worth trying.

La Truffière 2017, Côtes du Rhône, La Ferme du Mont
13.5%, €18.95

Restrained opulence in an enticing fresh wine with lightly textured apricots and nectarines. Perfect with poached or grilled salmon.
From Grapevine, Dalkey, Co Dublin,

Sablet 2017, Côtes du Rhône Villages, Domaine Les Goubert
13.5%, €19.50

Medium-bodied with attractive pure plump peach fruits. Fish soups, grilled white fish, or a quiche and salad.
From Terroirs, Dublin 4,

Zephyr 2017, Côtes du Rhône, Les Deux Cols (organic)
13.5%, €22.95

This is quite gorgeous and worth every cent. Honeysuckle aromas; medium-bodied, textured with rich pear fruits, a touch of toasted almonds and marzipan with a glorious finish. Roast Mediterranean vegetables, fish soups, salade Niçoise.
From Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin,; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth, Co Kildare,; La Touche, Greystones, Co Wicklow,; Martin’s Off -Licence, Fairview, Dublin 3,; Morton’s, Dublin 6,; Searsons, Monkstown, Co Dublin,

Mineral 2017, Vacqueyras Blanc, Domaine Montirius
13%, €35

Lightly and aromatic with very enticing elegant succulent yellow fruits underpinned by a crisp reviving acidity. With grilled or barbecued chicken.
From Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin,; Blackrock Cellar, Co Dublin,; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6,

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The serious white wines of Rhône Valley offer good value

“White wines from the Rhône just don’t sell,” lamented one retailer. He may be right, but I hope that will change in the near future. The Rhône Valley is divided into two parts, north and south (or septentrional and méridional if you are French). The northern part is much smaller and the wines, red and white, are lighter and more elegant. The south is hot; not the sort of place where you would expect to find quality white wines. In the past, the rare examples were a little clumsy and alcoholic, yet quality has shot up in recent years. Even now alcohol levels are never feeble, but with food, the wines can really shine. The northern Rhône always had Condrieu and white Hermitage, now joined by some excellent wines from Saint Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Péray.


White Châteauneuf-du-Pape is possibly the best-known southern wine, but some of the more enterprising producers in other nearby villages such as Vacqueyras, Cairanne, as well as Côtes du Rhône Villages and the Ventoux now make small quantities of interesting wines.

They are invariably made from a blend of grape varieties that include Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Clairette and increasingly, Viognier. Typically they have a sumptuous broad richness that goes really well with food, as well as the all-important acidity that retains interest and balance. They make a great partner for barbequed fish, chicken and pork as well as grilled butternut squash and sweet potato. They can take robust spicing, even a little chilli, and certainly herbs. As wine lovers travel the world looking for alternatives to white Burgundy, the serious white wines of both parts of the Rhône are starting to look like good value. True, there isn’t a huge amount under €15, but if you prepared to pay €15-€20 for a white wine, there are some excellent wines that offer great value. And once you venture over €20, there are some stunning wines.


Three white wines from the south are amongst the finest I have tasted so far this year. They include the Montirius below, the stunning Clos du Cailloux Vacqueyras Blanc – 64 Wines in Glasthule tell me they still have a few bottles for €38, and the single vineyard Echalas from Clos Bellane (€28.99 from Cabot & Co), one of my all-time favourite whites. I have featured the Paradou Viognier here before (€14.99, Searsons & The Drink Store). It is a delicious southern white at an amazingly cheap price given the quality. I have also enjoyed the very tasty Viognier-rich Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2014 (€16; Londis, Wexford, and Joyce, Galway). But do ask your local retailer; I would love to discover a few more!

Bottles of the week

Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015, Chapoutier

13.5%, €14.99

Lightly floral aromas, very moreish soft peaches fruits and a refreshing seam of citrus.

Stockists: Molloy’s; Nolan’s; O’Driscoll’s, Caherciveen and Ballinlough; Cass & Co.

Clos Bellane, Valréas Blanc, Côtes du Rhône Villages 2014 Biodynamic

13.5%, €19.99

Dried flower aromas, rich exotic fruits, citrus zest and a lingering satisfying finish.

Stockists: Cabot and Co, Westport –; Grapevine, Dalkey, Dublin – ; McCambridges, Galway.

Domaine de Fondrèche Ventoux Blanc 2015

13%, €19.95

Rich peaches, lemon zest and toasted nuts, all in one lovely mouthful.

Stockists: 1601 Off Licence; Green Man Wines; Drink Store, D7; 64 Wines; Searsons.

Montirius, Le Domaine, Minéral 2015, Vacqueyras

14%, €25.60

Floral and lightly honeyed, with wonderful voluptuous rich textured yellow fruits, underpinned by a reviving mineral acidity. Brilliant food wine.

 Stockists: Clontarf Wines; 64 Wines.

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