It is a great thing when you can find a red wine that is good and is for straight-up for drinking, rather than for pondering or evaluating. For me, this is usually something not too complex that goes down the chute smoothly and enjoyably. It doesn’t elicit the “OMG” or the “wow,” and for that, I am generally thankful. Sometimes you just want a nice glass of wine that is sound, tasty, and has a little umph, but not too much. The Delas Saint-Esprit Côtes-du-Rhône defines this to me — it’s got enough to keep me interested, but not too much so I have to crack a book on it.
Normal Description: I love a good Côtes-du-Rhône . If you’re not familiar with them, they range a ton in quality and you need to give a few a try (and probably ask your wine shop person for advice) before you settle on a reliable one. When you find a good one, it’s well worth it — I promise.
The Delas Saint-Esprit was a little more complex and interesting than the stuff I usually drink. And that’s because it’s made mostly with Syrah, rather than Grenache. That explains the dark ruby color — Syrah is one dark-colored grape!
The nose was pretty terrific. It was plum with just a ton of baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and then there was great chocolate-mocha yumminess as a secondary hit. The thing was a cilia-singer — alcohol was very apparent and kind of smacked me in the face. I got a bit of thyme and lavender as well, but these were less apparent so I may be making that up, although MC Ice gave me the “I see where you get that” and he’s not afraid to tell me if I’ve gone off the deep end, so I think I may be ok.
As I’ve said before, I love when a wine delivers on the nose and this did. It was chocolate, caramel, plum goodness with prodigious alcohol and heat all over. Surprisingly, there was a bit of a green pepper/vegetable flavors to this wine. That is not typical of Syrah or Grenache, but I’m calling it as I tasted it. That said, it wasn’t a deal breaker and the wine was awesome.
Snap or crap?: Snap. This wine is great. It’s not too serious, and it won’t blow your mind, but it’s perfect for a weeknight and it’s surely worth seeking out for the price. If you’ve never done a Côtes-du-Rhône, seek this out and give it a whirl. I think you’ll be back to the French section to keep on exploring, if nothing else (which will do my Francophile heart good, at least!)
Addendum: We did try this with homemade pizza after I reviewed it on its own merits. Please don’t do that. The acid in the tomatoes and the tannin in the wine clashed horribly and the wine tasted bitter as a result. Pairing can be so important because if I just had this wine with dinner and not before I would have mis-judged this lovely bottle.