Our expert panel has tasted through 120 reds from the northern and southern Rhône to bring you 50 of the best bargains available in the UK today – at prices that won’t break the bank. See the top 10, and Judge Matt Walls analyses the results...
Value Rhône reds: Top 10 under £18
The Rhône might be one of the classic wine regions of France, but it remains just as fruitful for the bargain hunter as for the serious collector. Rhône reds in particular have long had a reputation for delivering good value and this recent tasting of inexpensive reds largely confirmed it.
- Scroll down to see the top 10 value Rhône reds
At this price level, the named village wines performed strongly and ‘generally showed their individuality and quality’, according to panel judge Joanna Simon. Cairanne performed particularly well – justifying its recent elevation from Côtes du Rhône-Villages to AC status – with Plan de Dieu and Massif d’Uchaux not far behind.
- See the full 50 Rhône reds in the July issue of Decanter, on sale now. Subscribe to Decanter here.
There were plenty of solid wines from southern Rhône crus like Vinsobres and Lirac. Though better known, Vacqueyras and Rasteau and were less reliable. Good-quality Châteauneuf-du-Pape has long sat outside this price bracket, and it seems that Gigondas, once seen as ‘the poor man’s Châteauneuf’, is heading the same way.
One surprise was the quality of some of the straight AC Côtes du Rhônes. As you might expect at this most basic level, quality oscillated wildly; but there are some delicious wines if you know what to buy.
Little from the northern Rhône fell into our price bracket but the cheapest Crozes- Hermitage. Most that we tasted were from the tricky 2013 and 2014 vintages; quality was inconsistent, but a handful delivered.
That we weren’t tasting richer vintages may have been a blessing: we found few examples of jammy fruit or unbalanced alcohol. ‘I was very impressed with the wines’ freshness,’ said Decanter’s Christelle Guibert. ‘Overall I felt the oak was very well managed, with only a few exceptions.’
Simon summed up our impressions well: ‘Overall, it was a solid performance, especially in the price range.’
Classic Crozes nose with perfumed fresh berry fruit underscored by rich notes of pepper and roasted meats.
Wonderfully aromatic with a gamey richness overlaid by notes of rosemary and lavender.
Rich aromas of earthy, brambly fruit and dark chocolate lifted by perfumed black cherry.
Appealingly perfumed strawberries, cherries and bramble fruits waft up from the glass.
Savoury meatiness to the nose, delightfully underpinned by plenty of sweet black fruit.
Intense, youthful nose of loganberries, strawberries and cherries...
Attractive, berry-driven nose with sweet notes of strawberry jam....
Perfumed plums and baked bramble fruit enriched by alluring notes of sweet chestnut.
Fragrant spiced sweet cherries with a fresh leafy lift and a hint of rosemary.
Bright, spicy nose with soft notes of blackberries and medicinal herbs.