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I thought that I had found the recommendation for Côtes du Rhône d’Origine Protégée 2016 in May’s edition of Decanter Magazine which I was reading on a train journey from Eastleigh to Bournemouth. However, when I went to the magazine to look at the notes about the wine later in the week it wasn’t there. May’s Decanter is all about Italy, so this French wine was obviously not recommended there. Despite this, I decided to buy Côtes du Rhône d’Origine Protégée 2016 as I had definitely read about it somewhere last week and it was described as a full bodied white wine. When it comes to full bodied white wine I would usually buy Chardonnay or Viognier and if I was buying French white wine I would usually choose wines from Burgundy. The blend is made up of five grape varieties but the largest is Grenache which makes up 40%. Grenache is the most widely planted grape variety in the Southern Rhone Valley and it is used in the famous Marsanne blend, better known as Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The rest of Côtes du Rhône d’Origine Protégée 2016 blend is made up of 30% Viognier, 15% Roussanne and 15% of Bourboulenc and Clairette combined. On the label of the wine bottle were the words ‘Appellation Protégée’. This indicates that the wine is of good quality and has come from a specific region.

In the glass the appearance of the wine was very pale gold with a greenish tinge. The nose was clean, pure peach. On the palate it was soft peach. There was a slight honeyed sweetness and some gentle pear on the length. The roundness and warmth were coming from the Grenache with the Voignier giving peach and floral characteristics. The pear and subtle sweetness was coming from the Roussanne grapes. When the wine had been swallowed the length was peach and lime. It was soft and smooth with a little acidity but enough acidity to deal with food. It tasted very balanced and it never ceases to amaze me how clever these winemakers are at blending grape varieties. I Chilled the wine for only one hour so that it was not too cold so that I could identify vanilla and so that other aromas would be released from the wine and more easily detected. I liked the wine, but I had a reservation. It was medium bodied which disappointed me because I had planned for the food to match a full bodied white wine. I had read, in the article that I could not find, that there was some creaminess on the finish, but I did not detect this. 

I served Côtes du Rhône d’Origine Protégée 2016 with spatchcock chicken made with 40 cloves of garlic and shallots served with shiitake and oyster mushrooms, crushed and roasted buttered new potatoes and steamed baby spinach. The spatchcock chicken was a James Martin recipe but the fungi and vegetable accompaniments were my husband’s own. The 40 cloves of garlic added a lovely sweetness to the dish rather than a strong taste of garlic and this matched the wine beautifully. There was a cream sauce with the chicken and the potatoes were boiled and then crushed and covered with butter before roasting. When I could not taste oak in the wine, the component which matches cream and butter, I was concerned that there would be no match and I was right to be concerned. The match was just satisfactory but not one I’ll be repeating. This wine would be better with something lighter. Chicken salad or Chicken and rice or fish and plain boiled new potatoes. It is not a combination I would choose again as this dish needs a full-bodied wine which has been in oak. I would choose an oaked Chardonnay, my ‘go to’ wine for chicken dishes that are on the heavy side with cream and fats. 

I purchased Côtes du Rhône d’Origine Protégée 2016 from Sainsbury’s and it is one of their ‘Taste the Difference’ wines. It is a very nice wine and an excellent example of why I write my wine and food blog. I read somewhere that it had vanilla on the length and when I purchased the wine the supermarket shelf label read that it had vanilla notes. I couldn’t detect vanilla at all and on further research could not find evidence that the wine had spent time in oak. Although, being French it is likely that perhaps the lesser proportion of grape varieties had been in oak for a limited period of time if oak was detected at an earlier tasting. In addition, I think that this wine is too light for roast chicken unless the chicken is served with a salad or some boiled rice or new potatoes without any butter. When shoppers read on a supermarket label that the wine matches roast chicken most people think of roast potatoes and all the trimmings in a roast dinner. Côtes du Rhône d’Origine Protégée 2016 is too light to cope with a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings. After the food the wine was delicious. Honey notes were prominent, and the soft, round, cushion like texture of the wine was back.

Côtes du Rhône d’Origine Protégée 2016 was purchased from Sainsbury’s and cost £7 which I think is a bargain.

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