2015 Rhône: bargain buys from a stellar vintage

Dumas Syrah 2013
The best value Rhône I’ve drunk this year

“I do believe that it is a year where the ‘lesser’ terroirs will shine, as we have great colour, concentration, fruit and balance pretty much everywhere. A ‘great’ terroir will be great throughout various vintages like 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 but a lesser terroir much less frequently and that is for me one of the ‘markers’ of this vintage.” Claire Darnaud, winemaker at Delas

For one of the classic wine regions of France, the Rhône is still a fertile hunting ground for bargains, and this is particularly true in a bountiful vintage like 2015. I tasted over 1,000 wines for my recent 2015 Rhône Special Report, the finished document being a selection of the 255 most notable wines of the vintage. Up against the best of Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie and Châteauneuf, inevitably many very good AOC Cotes-du-Rhônes I taste get left behind, even though they offer excellent value for money.

As such, I thought I’d compile a list of my Top Ten Red AOC Côtes-du-Rhône in 2015, with a maximum UK retail price of £12 per bottle.

Prices quoted are per bottle when buying a case of 12, includig duty and VAT but excluding delivery. Many aren’t yet available in the UK, so I’ve quoted a stockist and price for the vintage they’re currently selling. I’d wait for the 2015 rather than buying a previous vintage blind.

In reverse order…

Domaine Brusset Côtes-du-Rhône ‘Laurent B.’ 2015
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan; 14% ABV
£9.86 at Great Western Wine
Fairly subtle on the nose for now, but rounded and concentrated juicy black and red berry fruits on the palate and well managed tannins. This is a large-framed Côtes-du-Rhône that needs another 6 to 12 months in bottle before really showing its best, but will be thoroughly enjoyable after that – excellent value at less than a tenner a bottle.
88 points, 2017 to 2020

M. Chapoutier Côtes-du-Rhône ‘Belleruche’ 2015
Grenache, Syrah; 13.5% ABV
£7.99 at Majestic
This Côtes-du-Rhône from Chapoutier often punches above its weight. It has plummy red fruits, and isn’t overly concentrated in fruit or tannin. It’s straightforward but well balanced, juicy and enjoyable. The tannins have a firm, finely-knitted character. Fabulous value at the £7.99 deal available at time of writing.
88 points, 2017 to 2019

Domaine de l’Espigouette Côtes-du-Rhône ‘Latour Bel Air’ 2015
45% Grenache 30% Syrah 20% Carignan 5% Mourvèdre; 14% ABV
No UK listings at present, but should be around £12; ask Thorman Hunt
Bright and spicy style thanks to the generous proportion of Syrah. Full of fruit, lovely acid balance and fine tannins. Well-crafted and well balanced. This cuvée is often a good pick, and it’s a banker in 2015.
89 points, 2017 to 2019

Domaine Saint-Amant Côtes-du-Rhône ‘Les Clapas’ 2015
50% Grenache, 50% Syrah; 14.5% ABV
£11.50 for the 2013 at Swig
Gorgeous high-toned nose, floral (violets) and lightly peppery. Lovely shining beam of acidity running through it, and some length of liqueur red fruits. Alcohol is a little raised but only very slightly; this is nonetheless a lovely wine, elegant and very drinkable. From some of the highest vineyards in the Southern Rhône, and you can feel the freshness in the wine.
89 points, 2017 to 2019

Domaine de Verquière Côtes-du-Rhône 2015
80% Grenache, 20% Syrah; 14% ABV
No UK listings at present, but should be around £12.00; ask Buon Vino
Straightforward but authentic fruits on the nose with a touch of earthiness and spice. Silky tannins, fine structure and pure fruit. Superb balance, very drinkable.
89 points, 2017 to 2019

Domaine Alary Côtes-du-Rhône ‘Gerbaude’ 2015
65% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Carignan; 14% ABV
£8.30 at H2Vin
Intriguingly smoky, slightly farmyardy nose, but not overtly so. Lush, with a flowing but not heavy texture, bright acidity and fine tannins. Long in fruit, this is an expressive, slightly rustic Côtes-du-Rhône. Staggeringly good value for money.
90 points, 2017 to 2020

Domaine Chaume-Arnaud Côtes-du-Rhône ‘Petit Coquet’ 2015
80% Grenache, 20% Cinsault; 14% ABV
No UK listings at present, but should be around £11; ask Berry Bros. & Rudd
A young vine cuvée from an excellent producer in Vinsobres. Light and floral cherry, raspberry and strawberry aromas. Medium-bodied, very juicy. A tight squeeze of fine tannins and a lovely redcurrant acidity running through this wine would make it a lively, eminently drinkable, delicious ‘house wine’.
90 points, 2017 to 2019

Château de Montfaucon Côtes-du-Rhône 2015
50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Carignan, 10% Cinsault, 5% Counoise; 14% ABV
£11.58 for the 2014 at O W Loeb
This is really well done. The blend has been put together with the care of a florist making a bouquet of flowers, all varieties in balance and on display. Blueberries, raspberries, loganberries, all backed up with hints of spice and floral top notes. Full-bodied, but no heaviness; fine-grained tannins, and juicy, raspberry acidity. Great balance, superb winemaking.
90 points, 2017 to 2021

Domaine Roche-Audran Côtes-du-Rhône ‘Nature’ 2015
100% Syrah; 14% ABV
£11.87 at Christopher Piper Wines
No additions, no sulphur added, biodynamic. All destemmed, no oak. Earthy currant on the nose. Lovely textural fruit across the palate with lightly grainy tannins and a savoury, dry finish. Some high toned floral notes over beautifully juicy raspberry and blackberry fruit. I could drink this all day. Really nicely done – nothing added, nothing taken away, nothing missing. Some hints of reduction at this early stage, but a joyful wine. (Since this has no SO² added, it might be sensible to try a bottle to see how it has travelled before buying a case.)
90 points, 2017 to 2019

Le Clos de Caveau Côtes-du-Rhône ‘Les Bateliers’ 2015
70% Grenache, 30% Syrah; 13.5% ABV
£11.95 for the 2012 at Fingal Rock
Made by one of the best producers in Vacqueyras, this has inviting aromas of spiced plum on the nose. Very round, generous fruits backed up by a serious spine of acidity and fine but weighty tannins. Long, pure finish. It’s punchy; and punches above its weight.
90 points, 2017 to 2020


In the full report:

• The 255 wines that you need to know about this year, split into six categories: Northern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Other Southern Rhône, both in red and white.
• All wines have a full tasting note, score and drinking window; where available they also include varietal blend, alcohol level, stockist and price.
• The ten things you need to know about 2015 in the Rhône.
• The Top Ten Value Reds, Top Ten Value Whites and Top Ten Estates to Watch.
• An updated vintage guide.
• Winemaker tips on up-and-coming estates.
• Dozens of colour photographs of the region and portraits of some of its most respected winemakers, all taken this year.
• All this for just £15.

Download here