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2020 Cellier des Dauphins, Cru des Côtes du Rhône, Vacqueyras

Wine has been produced in the region where Vacqueyras is located since the 15th century. However, records are sparse, reduced to mentioning large vineyards and a decree on how to keep hungry goats away from the grapes. Vacqueyras received the A.O.C. Côtes du Rhône Decree appellation in 1937, and in 1955 was promoted to Côtes du Rhône Villages status, becoming a named village in 1967. In 1990, Vacqueyras was granted its own AOC, the first in the region since Gigondas in 1971, and the first of several candidates for that particular honor.

The great majority (97%) of the wines of Vacqueyras are red. These red wines can be much like the wines from Gigondas and at their best, the wines of Vacqueyras can match them. Vacqueyras wines have been called "poor man's Châteauneuf-du-Pape." It doesn’t hurt that the vineyards are located just a few miles to the northeast of that prestigious appellation. Like most of the red wines produced in this appellation, Grenache and Syrah dominate the varieties in the wine. Cinsault, Carignan, and Mourvèdre (Monastrell), among others are also grown in the region.

APPEARANCE: Bright red, fairly translucent in the glass, which becomes enrobed with a lovely, temporary iridescent sheen.

AROMATICS: Juicy red fruits; fresh, lively with just a hint of garrigue among the deep ripe cherry aromas.

TASTE PROFILE: As the aromatics indicated: juicy red fruit, not heavy or overtly tannic. Refreshing, medium-bodied, with a pleasant, moderately long finish. “Balanced”, “youthful”, and “ready to drink” – and an exceptional “wine by the glass” choice.

FOOD PAIRINGS: Lamb roast, lamb chops and/or roasted or rotisserie chicken would be ideal. It’s not a big, beefy wine. It could even pair with tacos al pastor, or smoked salmon. Some cheese choices: Gruyere, Comte, Emmenthaler, Smoked Gouda, Cheddar, Aged Manchego and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano.

By Don Clemens

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