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Decanter’s top Rhône wines under £20

The moratorium is over. Decanter’s December issue has been published and I can announce our successes in the recent tasting undertaken by their Rhône expert, Matt Walls who has recently returned from a year and a half in the region.

If you look on today (November 2020), you will see a link to ‘Top Côtes du Rhône wines under £20’. What the article doesn’t tell you is that the brief of its writer was to taste and rate wines from across the valley in that price range and that the top scoring white wine was actually a Ventoux. No prizes for guessing that it was Château Juvenal’s 2019 ‘Ribes de Vallat’ Blanc, awarded 91 points, which, at £12.60 is also the best value of any of the white wines on the list:

'From 30- to 40-year-old vines grown on granite south-facing slopes; half of the wine is matured for six months in demi-muid leaving no overt oakiness to the aromatics. Full-bodied, rich and opulent style, very ripe and fulsome. Some mango and pineapple juice. Unmistakenly southern Rhône, this is quite a mouthful but its remarkably balanced considering with a tensile core. Organic.' (Matt Walls, Decanter 12/20)

Not far behind, on 90 points, was a wine with an even lowlier status: Domaine Ste-Anne’s Vin de France 2019 Viognier which, at £13.80, must be far and away the best example of this variety at such an attractive price point. Where, outside Condrieu (prices north of £30) can you get Viognier of this quality in the region?

'Grown on cancerous soil, this is a nicely measured style, medium-to-full-bodied with good freshness and ample body and richness, as you'd expect from a southern Rhône Viognier. White spring flowers on the nose, a little gooseberry and fresh pear on the palate. Well-balanced and vivacious with a subtle mineral line.' (Matt Walls, Decanter 12/20)

Reds were successful too: Juvenal again (no great surprises for anyone who knows the wines) with its 2017 ‘Ribes de Vallat’ Rouge on 91 points for just £12:

'From 10- to 50-year-old hand-harvested vines on south-facing clay limestone slopes. there's blackcurrant fruit with an uplifting herbal nose, Medium-bodied but seamless. Well-balanced, elegant. Plenty of life left in this yet! Organic.' (Matt Walls, Decanter 12/20)

Also on 91 points, a fully mature wine which at £18, must be a contender for anyone’s Christmas dinner wine: Domaine Brusset’s 2013 Gigondas ‘Le Grand Montmirail’:

'The 2013 vintage was marked by coulure, resulting in a small crop. This is very full-bodied. It still has succulent fruit on the palate, mostly strawberry, and it is taking on woody herbs, smoke, worked leather and menthol. Mature now but won't fall apart any time soon. Food-friendly, great price'. (Matt Walls, Decanter 12/20)

All these wines are available and the couriers are still working during the current lockdown so you can place your orders online or by email ( or call 01638 510803.


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