2013 Côtes du Rhône; Jean Luc Colombo’s Les Abeilles $12 (France)
The classic blends of the Côtes du Rhône have always been one of the world’s most honest values in wine. The entry level Côtes du Rhône AOC represents two-thirds of all Rhône wines and in many cases, some of the Rhône’s biggest named producers making well regarded and highly priced wines from some of the prized Rhône villages and AOCs like Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape produce Côtes du Rhône bottlings that can be had for a song. One such quality producer is Jean Luc Colombo whose label produces wines from the Rhone crus like Châteauneuf-du-Pape as well as even more rare single vineyard bottlings within those highly prized sub-regions.
The Côtes du Rhône growing region benefits from a warm Mediterranean climate, and an abundance of ripe, yet minerality friendly grape varieties like Syrah and Mourvedre. These two are then blended with the more openly fruity Grenache. In the Colombo Les Abeilles (the bees) label you get a harmony of the three varities nearly split down the middle (or third as the case may be). The wine is aromatically floral and elegant, with notes of garrigue and dried violets. Yet it brings forth a rustic, charming palate of dusty red berry fruit, bright raspberry, anise and stone.
The label is also a driver for a the Bee Helpful program out of UC Davis, proceeds from the purchase of this wine go to research and understanding into the Colony Collapse Disorder. A condition impacting bees world wide and certainly of importance in the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône.
Pairing Picks: The wines of the Côtes du Rhône often pair very well with comfort foods, so think beef or vegetable stew, pot roast, as well as heartier meat dishes like , beef stroganoff or coq au vin.