Given that 2018 is the fourth great rhône vintage in a row, it’s time we all stocked up on what is the best-value classic French wine region. What’s weird about the Rhône, despite its stellar whites and reds, is just how few of us put it on a par with Bordeaux and Burgundy.Perhaps what confuses drinkers are the dozens of wine styles made along the Rhône valley, from Lyons in the north to Provence in the south. They broadly divide into two camps: the cooler northern Rhône’s steep, granite, terraced slopes produce peppery, syrah-spiced reds, while the sunbaked south is known for heady, herby grenache-led gems. As so often, the 2018 vintage is a game of two halves [ . . . ]
French anti-fraud authorities allege that a Rhône Valley wine merchant mislabeled more than 5 million cases of table wine as more expensive appellations like Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Between October 2013 and June 2016, Raphaël Michel, a bulk-wine merchant in France’s Rhône Valley, allegedly sold the equivalent of 13 Olympic-size swimming pools of cheap French table wine while claiming it was some of the best wine of the Southern Rhône Valley.
Those details and more emerged with the release of the annual report of the DGCCRF (Directorate General for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control), France’s powerful anti-fraud agency. While the report does not name Raphaël Michel, the details match precisely with the investigation first reported last July by Wine Spectator. Independent sources confirm that Raphaël Michel is the unnamed company in the report.
According to the DGCCRF report, between 2013 and 2016, the merchant sold around 20 million liters of table wine—the equivalent of 2.23 million cases—as more lucratively priced appellation-level wines including Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône-Villages and even 108,000 cases of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
When investigators dug deeper, the scam grew even larger, encompassing even more kinds of wine. “In total, the fraud touched more than 48 million liters of wine,” reads the report. That is the equivalent of 5.33 million cases of fake wine, 15 percent of the Côtes du Rhône production during those years [ . . . ]
Cotes-du-Rhone may be an ideal all-purpose red wine: It’s great to sip by itself, and it pairs beautifully with a wide variety of foods, from braised chicken and beef to hearty grilled meats. The Chateau de Marjolet 2015 is outstanding, and a terrific value at just $15. This week’s recommendations include two lighter reds from Italy and France, an Oregon pinot noir and a flowery, fruity white from Armenia [ . . . ]