TN: The pale, pale wines of Rhône

Château de Bastet 2004 Côtes-du-Rhône “Les Acacias” (Rhône) – Flowering peach stickiness, with a fresh nut oil texture and a relatively short finish. White Côtes-du-Rhône is a bit of an acquired taste, but while this isn’t a particularly good value ($24 at a local store), it’s a nice wine for near-term drinking. (6/06)

Any number of grapes could be represented here, but the thing about nearly all of them is that they tend to pair a thick, almost chewy texture with acidity levels that are often perilously low. Unless one is attuned to the taste, whites from the Rhône Valley – and this applies to everything from the lowliest CdR blanc to the most lofty Condrieu or Hermitage blanc – can often be more of an exercise in intellectual than organoleptic enjoyment. I happen to have a taste for the wines, but (other than Condrieu) more so when they’re well-aged; a practice which I don’t believe will benefit this bottle (though I’ve been profoundly fooled by white Rhônes before). In any case, even though most would identify the texture as the problem (as I guess I do, above), it’s really not likely that it is; the most popular New World wines basically replicate this texture, albeit in a more manipulative way (malolactic fermentation, residual sugar, new oak, etc.) I think it’s the aromatic palette that confounds people…neither boisterous fruit nor transparent minerality are to be found here. Alcohol: 13%. Biodynamic. Closure: cork. Importer: Violette.

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