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The Seductive Southern Rhone Valley

With the onset of autumn in New York, I think it’s time to talk about red wines that drink well when the temperature outside begins to drop. While at Eli’s List, we tend to favor the lighter, elegant wines this week we are featuring two from the Southern Rhone Valley that are on the richer side of elegant. Southern Rhone wines with their warmer, fruitier and spicier character are probably France’s most accessible and user friendly ones.

I’ve often wondered what makes these wines so wonderfully easy to drink…perhaps it is the honest fruity character of the Grenache grape, which dominates here? In any case, last year, along with Jean Emmanuel Simond (JES), I had tried the Chateauneuf du Pape 2010 from the Domaine Bois de Boursan and we had both agreed that it was delicious. But for some reason, it never made it into Eli’s List. Needless to say I was pleased to meet Jean Paul Versino the owner of Bois de Boursan, who along with Gilles Gasq from Domaine La Manarine stopped by recently.

We sat down next door at Eli’s Table with the full range of their wines and began to taste. And true to form, the Chateauneuf from Bois de Boursan, the classic red of the domaine, lived up to its bold reputation. While the Cotes du Rhone rouge from Domaine La Manarine made from 100% 35 year old Grenache spoke loud and clear of the terroir. And $18 per bottle made it even more outstanding.

The wines from both Domaine La Manarine & Bois du Boursan represent something that has been increasingly hard to find in southern Rhone these days, wines that speak of purity and place. The southern Rhone is an area that is intriguing with its 13 red varietals and the gallet (round pebbles that help with drainage and run-off).

Domaine La Manarine is located in Travaillan on a plateau northeast of Orange. For generations, this terroir has been seen as unique. Now, 18 hectares of that make up the domaine owned by Gilles Gasq who practices organic viticulture. Gasq used to work side by side with Paul Jeune, the proprietor of Domaine Monpertuis in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. 



Bois de Boursan was founded in 1955 by Jean Versino (Jean-Paul’s father). It is a 10-hectare domaine located within the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The average age of the vines is in excess of fifty years. The domaine is worked organically and vinification is traditional.

Randall.

Domaine de la Manarine, Côtes du Rhône Rouge -- $18

Bois de Boursan, Cuvee des Felix -- $70