Wine of the Week

A trio of wines from one of France's great vintners

Wine of the Week

Chapoutier Côtes-du-Rhône Belleruche

Michel Chapoutier rocketed onto the wine scene in 1990 at age 26. He was full of piss and vinegar, set on transforming the vineyards of the world with his preferred mode of bio- dynamic farming. Two decades later, his outstanding collection of wines has proven his point. In 2003, his wines received ratings over 90 points 88 times. Leading critic Robert Parker called Chapoutier "one of the most influential wine personalities of the last 20 years." Chapoutier's finest wines from France's Rhône Valley can cost more than $500. So what should we make of his wines that run about $10-12?

Quite a lot, actually. They are named Belleruche and also hail from the Rhône Valley. The easiest to find is Chapoutier Côtes-du-Rhône Belleruche Rouge, a delicious concoction made from Grenache and Syrah. Like most European wines, this is food wine, made to drink at the dinner table, not with a pre-meal chat. The tannins are rich and go perfectly with cold-weather fare like roasted meats or stews. Chapoutier's Côtes-du-Rhône Belleruche Blanc, the white version, is also worth trying. It is made from Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Bourboulenc and is light and crisp, ideally suited for grilled trout in butter sauce. Because of America's antipathy to dry Rosé wines, Chapouti­er's Côtes-du-Rhône Belleruche Rosé is almost impossible to find but well worth ordering. This combo of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault has big, bright aromas and is the perfect burger wine.

The Blanc and Rouge are often available at Whole Foods, the Austin Wine Merchant, some Spec's locations, and several Randalls groceries. The Rosé seems to be out of stock around town. All are easily available by order.

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Michel Chapoutier, biodynamic farming, Robert Parker, Cotes-du-Rhone Belleruche, Côtes-du-Rhône Belleruche, Belleruche Blanc, Belleruche Rose, Belleruche Rouge

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