New Producer: Château de Rhodes
At Paris Wine Company, we receive a steady stream of samples from French winemakers looking to export their wines. Unfortunately, like manuscripts sent through the transom to publishers, these unrequested samples are by and large not of great quality. Though every once in a while, we open a bottle that makes our taste buds perk up. Such was our unanimous reaction to the wines of Château de Rhôdes.
Eric Lépine produces a fantastic range of wines from over twenty hectares of organic vineyards in Gaillac, part of France’s great southwest. The region is known for black truffles, foie gras, cassoulet, duck confit, and of course, a range of rich and rustic wines.
The sparkling “méthode ancestrale” was an immediate eye-opener. It’s currently more popular to refer to this type of wine as a pétillant naturel or pét-nat, but sparkling wine production in Gaillac predates both hipsters and Champagne. The dry and crisp Gaillac Blanc is a great follow-up produced from the three local grapes: Mauzac, Ondenc, and Loin de l’Oeil. But of course, the region is known for hearty reds that stand up to the rich local cuisine, like the delicious Gaillac Rouge. Rhodes, however, also presents a lighter red under the Chevalier de Rhodes label, which is a refreshing and welcome alternative.
When it’s harder to get personal advice on wine, people seem drawn to the grapes and regions they already know. Tasting these wines from the Château de Rhôdes reminds us yet again that the road less travelled offers phenomenal wines, a ticket to a new range of flavors, and often at a great value.