St Cosme 2012 Côtes du Rhône


From €8.80, $10.99, £9.50, 99 Swedish krone, 14 Swiss francs, 1,620 yen, CA$17.05, NZ$19.95, 196 rand, HK$145, 149.90 Norwegian krone, and more

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Louis Barruol's Château de St Cosme is one of the most consistent producers of Gigondas, one of the most beautiful wine villages in the world. But he also makes a range of wines from elsewhere in the Rhône, even venturing as far north as Condrieu. His red Côtes du Rhône is really serious stuff – far, far better than the average generic bottling – and I am a big fan of the 2012 vintage in the southern Rhône.

You may remember that at the end of my article When to pull the cork, I tried to give guidance about how long typical examples of various wines could be kept. I suggested that most reds selling for under £10 or even $20 were best drunk within two years. Admittedly this is only just under £10 in the UK but it is certainly an obvious exception. It tastes as though there is still a great deal going on in there and I would imagine that it will continue to gain interest for the rest of the decade. The tannins are still quite obvious, even though the fruit itself is gorgeous and thoroughly rewarding.

It is based on Syrah from two sources that have been used for some time by Barruol, who finds them particularly compatible. One lot comessaint_cosme_cotes_du_rhone_rouge_2012__1_ from vines grown in that excellent southern Rhône village of Vinsobres, whose altitude and cooler climate makes it so well suited to the north Rhône grape and which he says performed exceptionally well in 2012, when they were able to pick really quite late. The other lot is grown on huge, stone-littered villefranchiennes terraces of the Gard département on the right bank of the Rhône. The grapes are all destemmed and aged in vat without oak. Like so many southern French wines, there is really no need for oak and this wine is certainly chock full of herbs, fruit and spice. The alcohol level is 14.5% according to the label but there is no excessive heat.

This wine strikes me as great value and, as you can see from all the prices cited above, is clearly made in great quantity and can be found all over the world. In the UK it is sold by The Wine Society and I encountered it at the tasting described in Wine Society buyers' favourites. Other UK retail stockists include
Handford, Wimbledon Wine Cellars and Last Drop in London; Tivoli in Cheltenham; and Fyne Wines in Argyll. Bibendum Fine Wine offer it to their private clients, too.

Find this wine (and ensure that you distinguish between the red and white versions)