Sipping Blanc from Rhône

I’ve been on a bit of a French wine kick lately, so I explored Rhône Valley with a vin blanc. I actually don’t recall the last time I had a white wine from Rhône, so I was intrigued when I saw this M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Cotes du Roussillon Blanc 2018 at a local grocery store.

Chapoutier is one of the oldest names in the Rhone valley. Founded in 1808 by the Calvet family, it was sold to the Chapoutier family in 1855. The history of the Chapoutier family stretches back to the early nineteenth century when current owner Michel Chapoutier’s great, great, great-grandfather Marius purchased an estate and some vineyards in the now famous village of Tain l’Hermitage in the Northern Rhône Valley.

Marius Chapoutier made history in the region when he became the first grape grower there to vinify his own fruit. Marius had tasted wines other winemakers produced using his fruit and he realized that something was lost in translation, so to speak. He knew that he owned some of the best growing sites in the appellation and he believed that the grapes grown in his vineyards could produce long-lived world-class wines, so he decided that he should make the wine himself. Not only did the quality of the wines increase greatly, but this change provided the capital to expand the Chapoutiers’ already legendary estate.

Fast forward to today and Michel has revolutionized his family’s winery and the Rhône Valley wine industry. He has incorporated innovations like 100% biodynamic viticulture, aggressive vineyard management, vintage dating for all the estate’s wines, and the elimination of fining and filtration.

Courtesy M. Chapoutier

This wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, and Macabeu. A part of the grapes comes from limestone and clay soils in the Agly Valley while the rest come from granite soils at higher altitude (500m, later ripening sites). The grapes are harvested by hand. After pressing, the must is cold-settled and vinification is performed in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Ageing lasts a few months in order to keep all the freshness and enhance the minerality.

The wine was pale yellow. It had notes of waxy lemon, green apple, stone fruit, flint, and minerality. It was dry, medium acidity, medium bodied, with a medium finish. It was refreshing and great for the $18.99 price tag. I paired it with some whole fish (I think sea bass) and then enjoyed it in my Fleo leggings on the couch.

Do you have any favorite white wines from the Rhône Valley?

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