French Kiss, The Finale: An Affordable Rhône White Wine

The Wine of the Week: M. Chapoutier “La Ciboise” Blanc

by Annette Tomei

2015 M. Chapoutier “La Ciboise” Blanc, Luberon, France

To complete our flight of French whites, we discover an affordable Rhône white wine that has aged gracefully. Maison M. Chapoutier is a respected négociant and producer in the Cotes du Rhône, best known for their Hermitage wines. La Ciboise is the name of a family property in the Luberon. Chapoutier produces both this white and a red under the La Ciboise name, in homage to his family’s home and the celebration of everyday life.

The Luberon may be a tad off the radar for the average consumer, despite producing wines since at least the eighth century BC. It is located in the southeastern Rhône Valley, and known for its bountiful sunshine. This reflects well in its wines, which tend to be ripe and fruit-driven, made from grapes that also flourish in other warm, sunny climates. The wines of the Luberon are also known for being quite approachable in price as well as in quality.

Like its neighbors in the Rhône Valley, the wines in this area are typically made from blends of several grapes. This white wine is made from a blend of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Ugni Blanc, and Roussanne. The first and last in the list are typical of this region. Vermentino is better known in Italy than France. And, finally, Ugni Blanc is best known in France as the grape voted most likely to become Cognac, though its true roots are also in Italy under the name Trebbiano Toscano.

About this Wine

The pale yellow color belies the rich, almost woodsy qualities of this wine. Spicy floral notes and a hint of evergreen forest draw you into the glass. A peppery, steely tingle – complements of the Grenache Blanc – opens to a smooth glycerin finish. This affordable Rhône white wine is medium bodied and has well-balanced acidity.

At 14% ABV this is a “big” white wine that pairs well with roasted pork, duck, or chicken. It would also be a great accompaniment for richer seafood such as seared scallops or butter-drenched lobster. For the vegetarian, try roasted or grilled vegetables with nutty ancient grains.

The Verdict

This is not the current vintage of this wine, and it is showing signs of age. Specifically, flavors of tropical and citrus fruits are evolving into earthier woodsy notes. I found it appealing and enjoyable. Based on how well this inexpensive white has aged over two years, I look forward to trying the current vintage. This drinkable (and apparently ageable) wine has an average price under $10/bottle.

I hope you enjoyed our French Kiss flight, and that you will continue to join me over the next few weeks as we continue our summertime flights of fancy!

For more about where I enjoyed this and other flights, please visit here.


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