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2018 Château de Valcombe, Costières de Nîmes

Costières de Nîmes is an Appellation d'Origine Protégé (AOP) for wines that are produced in an area between the ancient city of Nîmes and the western Rhône delta, in the French department of the Gard. Formerly part of the Languedoc region of France, it was obvious that the wines more resembled those of the Rhône valley in character than those of the Languedoc. For that reason, in 1986, it became part of the Rhone wine area and is now administered by the Rhône Wine committee which has its headquarters in Avignon.

Wines from the region have been produced for over two millennia and were consumed by the Greeks in pre-Roman times, making it one of the oldest vineyards in Europe. The area was settled by veterans of Julius Caesar's campaigns in Egypt, and some bottles of Costières de Nîmes bear the symbol of the Roman settlement at Nîmes, a crocodile chained to a palm tree. According to a chart in the kitchen of the Palais des Papes in Avignon, many of the towns in what is now the Costières de Nîmes region were the main suppliers of wine to the Popes of that era, who were residing nearby in Avignon, at Châteauneuf-du-Pape (“New Residence of the Pope”).

APPEARANCE: Intense garnet, almost opaque

AROMATICS: This lovely wine, made from 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache, shows off a typical Rhône wild herb aromatic, known as “garrigue”, along with hints of lavender and ample dark tree fruits.

TASTE PROFILE: Youthful tannins are present, but not off-putting, rather like biting through the skin of a tart apple. The fruit flavors hint at mulberry, blackberry, and blueberry. There is also a savory element that reminds one of black olives and a touch of spices such as sage and rosemary. The finish is fairly long, but not aggressive. Good acidity makes for a refreshing, yet full-flavored wine.

FOOD PAIRINGS: This wine cries out for grilled meats such as beef ribeye, tri-tip, flank steak, and lamb chops. Aged Cheddar cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano, or Pecorino-Romano would also be fine companions.

By Don Clemens

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