This past weekend I had a bottle of the 2000 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, the Cotes du Rhone from the makers of the prestigious Chateau de Beaucastel (one of the great Chateauneuf du Papes). It was in beautiful shape and — while it wouldn’t be mistaken for its bigger brother — it could easily pass for mid level Chateauneuf. And at a fraction of the price (about $30 compared to over $70), it was a great deal.
But it was also more than a great deal; it was another example of how it is possible to enjoy a certain style of wine without breaking the bank.
The main grape in most Chateauneufs is Grenache, followed by Syrah, Mourvedre and a number of others. And it turns out that is the same combo that goes into most Cotes du Rhones. So it is no surprise that the flavour profile — while generally lighter and less intense — is the same as well. Hence, the chance to have the same kind of experience without the hefty price tag.
And if you happen to get really good producers in a great vintage — like the 2007 that is out right now — you can actually have almost the same wine experience. By coincidence, I picked up the 2007 Coudoulet in the wine store the other day for my cellar and while it has gone up a bit in price — $34.95 — it is also very highly rated (92 by Parker) and expected to age/get better for 10+ years! Compare that to the Chateau de Beaucastel, which is rated 96 but i expect will be over $80 when it comes out later this year.
Now don’t get me wrong, I would love to drink the Beaucastel as well…it is just out of my snack bracket. I sometimes can find it in half bottles (my rationale there is two wines for the price of one, as I can drink them separately) but that is about it. So instead, I am content to look for wines like the Coudoulet which can deliver a similar experience for a much lower price tag.