Bring on the Côte du Rhônes! (#Winophiles)

Côtes du Rhônes are super versatile and tend to be quite affordable, making them great everyday wine staples. We're exploring various different styles and colors and some of their many pairing possibilities.

This post contains wines provided as media samples. As always, all opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Côtes du Rhône wines are staple house wines around here. I do not hide that if forced to choose, the Rhône is my favorite French wine region for reds. Combine that with the fact that most tend to be pretty affordable, easy-going, and food-friendly, and you get the perfect recipe for a weeknight go-to on my wine rack. They also tend to be crowd-pleasers, so they’re an easy choice when I need to please a wide set of palates including my own. 

We’ve explored the Côtes du Rhône in-depth before, in All the Colors of Côtes du Rhône with Famille Perrin, so I invite you to take a look at that post which also includes a longer cheat sheet, but I’ll summarize some of the basics of the region here.

5 Fact Côtes du Rhône Cheat Sheet

  • The AOC/AOP covers the entire Rhône Valley. This includes both the northern and southern sections, encompassing over 98,000 acres as of 2021. That said, most CdR comes from the Southern Rhône. 
  • Côtes du Rhône is one of France’s oldest and largest winemaking regions. The Greeks and the Romans originally planted vines here in approximately 125 BC. Côtes du Rhône means “the hillsides of the Rhône [River]” and it is the entry-level appellation for the Rhône as a whole. It produces over 40 million gallons of wine. That’s a lot of wine, but there are lots of good values to be found if you look for quality-conscious producers. 
  • CdR’s come in Red, White, and Rosé. The overwhelming amount of wine produced is red as over 95% of the region’s vineyards are planted with red grapes, which of course can be used for rosé as well, but you will find white wines too. 
  • It’s all about the blends. While single-varietal bottlings are allowed (we’ll see one example today), blends are the norm, and producers 21 permitted grape varieties to choose from. 
    • Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre  (aka GSM) are the star players for the reds, with Grenache usually making up the base of the blend, as it is the most planted grape in Southern Rhône. Cinsault and Carignan also make frequent appearances. 
    • Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc are common players among the whites. 
  • There are levels. Côtes du Rhône is the entry point and the base of the region’s quality pyramid, but this tier is further subdivided into a couple of levels. (Above this are the region’s named crus.)  Restrictions and regulations get tighter as you move up the pyramid.
    • The Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC was added in for villages deemed to be producing wines of consistently higher quality. For the reds, Grenache must make up at least  50% of the blend, with 20% Syrah and/or Mourvèdre. A maximum of 20% of other authorized varieties is permitted. The rosés follow the same percentages with the added stipulation that a blend can use only up to 20% of white varieties.
    • Next up are the named Côtes du Rhône Villages. These communes get to attach their name on the label. Currently, there are 22, but more are occasionally added, and sometimes a village will graduate to cru level. 

This infographic further summarizes the levels and details.

In this post we'll range around many of the different styles, looking at all of the colors, and the various tiers, including four of the named villages. 

Pairing Côtes du Rhône Wines

I personally find the wines to be super versatile to pair since, regardless of the color, there tends to be a nice balance between savory notes and ripe fruit notes, so they can work with many different styles of cuisines. The whites have a ripeness and intensity of aromatics that allow them to even work with slightly sweet dishes and tricky to pair Asian cuisines that use many a variety of flavors, while still remaining dry. (A good option if you like those cuisines, but don’t want to go with an off-dry option.) Generally speaking, I find the rosés to have a little more body than those from the entry-level in neighboring Provence, so they work a little better with things like chicken and pork on average. For their part, the reds can range from medium-bodied to full-bodied, but on average the tannins aren’t super aggressive so they don’t overpower lighter meats, but they’re full enough to work with heavier meats as well. If you’re not sure where to go, the old pairing adage “what grows together, goes together” definitely applies here, so Mediterranean flavors are always a safe bet.

Here we’ll see them paired against a variety of styles of dishes including some everyday favorites. While I haven’t included any full recipes in this post, there are several non-recipes included in the mix, as well as a leftover makeover idea.

The Wines

Ogier Artesis Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2018 with Seared Scallops with Browned Butter, Roasted Butternut Squash, and Sautéed Kale 

Blend: 35% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette, 20% Roussanne, 15% Viognier, 10% Bourboulenc (Note: Different versions of the tech sheet had slightly different blends/percentages.) 
SRP: $17 (sample) | ABV: 13% | Farming Practices: Unspecified/Conventional

The Ogier name goes all the way back to 800 A.D. when “Ogier the Dane” fought with Charlemagne’s army in the Basque Country, and decided to settle in southeastern France’s Massif Central region. Fast forward a few centuries to 1859, and we meet Antoine Ogier, a descendent of Ogier the Dane, who decides to purchase a cooperage and established himself as a wine producer in the nearby Rhône Valley.

In over 160 years, the company has expanded its holdings considerably, most of which are in the Southern Rhône. The winery itself is located in the center of the village in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and they produce wines from CdP, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Lirac. They also make a few bottlings from parcels within Crozes-Hermitage and Côte Rôtie in the Northern Rhône.

About the Wine: The wine is named for three Artesian wells found on the property where the winery was established. Grapes are gently pressed and then undergo fermentation at cool temperatures to preserve the aromatics, as well as to prevent malolactic fermentation. The wine then rests on its lees in concrete vats to gain body and richness.  
Soil: Galets on sand, clay, and limestone.
Find additional information here and here

Tasting Notes: The wine had an expressive nose showing notes of peaches, gold apples, Meyer lemon cream, as well as lots of flowers including honeysuckle and peach blossoms. These all come back on the palate, but are a little more tart, with a little grapefruit pith mixed in, as well as touches of herbs, stones, and rounded, beeswax texture on the mid-palate.

The Pairing and How it Worked: It was a beautiful match with seared scallops in brown butter with butternut squash seasoned with sage, sautéed kale, and pepitas sprinkled on top. The cubes of squash were tossed salt, pepper, olive oil, and sage and roasted in the oven at 425°F for 30-35 minutes, or until nicely caramelized. I seared the scallops on both sides in a mixture of olive oil and butter. Once ready, I transferred them out of the pan, then sauteéd the kale quickly in the browned butter mixture. Once everything was plated together, I sprinkled a little Parmesan and pepitas on top for a little extra flair and crunch. 

The wine struck a nice balance between speaking to the richness and silky texture of the scallops in browned butter, while also having enough brightness to remain lively. It also had enough fruit to stand up to the light sweetness of the butternut squash, while the light herbal notes integrated with the sage and kale. 

Additional Pairings: The winery recommends this wine as an aperitif or with accompanies seafood dishes (scallops, shrimps, prawns, fresh line fish) with herbs (sage, tarragon) or roasted chicken. (I hadn’t read those recs in advance, but we were clearly on the same page.) 

Domaine Chamfort La Pause Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet Rosé 2019 with Seared Salmon and Sheet-pan Mediterranean Vegetables and Parmesean Cream

Blend: 50% Grenache / 50% Syrah | SRP: $19 (sample)  | ABV: 14.1% 
Farming Practices: Organic, Certified as of 2021

Vasco Perdigao acquired the Domain Chamfort estate in 2010 and now works with the help of his partner  Sonia Léorat. He spent several years making wine in the northern areas of Côtes du Rhône, before deciding to start his own project in the southern Rhône Valley. 

About the Wine: His Sablet vineyard is nestled into the base of the Dentelles de Montmirail on the northern edge of the famed Gigondas zone, overlooking the village of Sablet. The vineyards are planted on slightly sloping terraces with south-southwest exposure. The nearby mountains have a cooling influence on temperatures that brings freshness and balance to the grapes. This rosé is made via the saignée method.
Average Vine Age: 20 - 50 years  |  Soil: Limestone, sand, and galets.
Find additional information here

Tasting Notes: Aromas of tangerine, peach, white cherry, with a slight touch of cream, welcomed us on the palate. Similar fruit notes continued on the palate and were tangy, bright, showing a little stony minerality, a pinch of white pepper, and rounded body and texture. 

The Pairing and How it Worked: The wine worked beautifully with salmon, roasted zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and peppers on garlic cream. The salmon was simply seared to crisp the skin. The vegetables were also simply prepared roasted with salt, pepper, olive oil, and thyme in the oven at 425°F for about 20-25 minutes until starting to brown. All of the veggies can be combined on a sheet pan together, save the cherry tomatoes which can be added during the last five minutes of cooking. I served it all with a Parmesan-garlic cream spread to add flavor and textural contrast. You can also swap in aioli for a similar feel. 

The wine and the food matched each other beautifully. A hint of tang in the wine was perfect with the tomatoes. The textures also mirrored each other seamlessly, and the wine seemed to grow more rounded on the palate in the pairing.

Additional Pairings: The winery recommends this wine with a variety of foods including grilled sausages with mashed potatoes with salted butter, grilled chicken curry with roasted pineapple, skewered grilled meats, and vegetables. 

Domaine Gramenon La Sagesse Côtes du Rhône 2019 with a Mediterreanean Mezze Spread

Blend: 100% Grenache | SRP: $44 (sample) | ABV: 14% 
Farming Practices: Certified Biodynamic

Domaine Gramenon was established by Michèle Aubèry-Laurent, a former nurse, and her vigneron husband Philippe in the north-easternmost areas of the Southern Rhône, bottling their first vintage in 1990. Philippe was tragically killed in a car accident in 1999, but  Michèle carried on the business, embracing her new role with fervor, while also raising their three children. She now works the domaine’s twenty-six hectares with her son Maxime François. They employ organic and biodynamic practices in the vineyards and follow non-interventionist principles in their winemaking. 

About the Wine:  The grapes for this wine come old-vine Grenache vine from three plots in Gramenon, in the commune of Montbrison-sur-Le. Two parcels are located on limestone plateaus and around 1000 feet, and the third plot is on a sandy south-facing slope. Grapes are hand-harvested, sorted, then partially destemmed, and macerated in concrete tanks for fifteen days. Slow, ambient fermentation is followed by twelve months in a combination of barrels and demi-muids and bottled without fining or filtration.
Average Vine Age: 50 - 70 years | Soil: Sandstone, limestone, sand, and shells.
Find additional information here and here.

Tasting Notes: A mixture of peppery notes and raspberry sauce aromas greeted me on the nose, with lots of garrigue and a few wildflowers. On the palate, the wine started out with ripe, rich fruit notes balanced by savory herbs flavors, finishing with pencil lead and stones. This was one of my favorites in the bunch, although Greg liked it less on its own. (He liked it with the food.)

The Pairing and How it Worked: We this wine with kibbeh and mezze spread. I froze kibbeh after I made them for Indulging My Lebanese Cravings with Chateau Musar Jeune Rouge,  and it was so nice to have them on hand. I had hummus with smoked paprika and baked sourdough pita bread following this recipe. The fresh pita was soooo tasty! I also bought tabouli to go with it all. 

Another really tasty match. The allspice in the kibbeh brought out attractive spice notes in the wine, and vice versa. The hummus ended up with a little more smoked paprika than intended because the sprinkler top fell off as I was trying to sprinkle it on top of the hummus. Luckily, it was not an overpowering amount, and once stirred in it really worked, and the wine also really loved the smoky paprika flavor.

Domaine Fond Croze Les Vieux Ceps de Raymond Côtes du Rhône Villages Vaison-la-Romaine 2015 with Pork, Veggie, and Grain Bowls

Blend: 100% Carignan | Average price: $11 (Purchased via | Farming Practices: Certified Organic 

Domaine Fond Croze’s history dates back to the day after World War I ended in 1918 when upon returning from battle, Charles Long decided to settle with his family in Saint Roman de Malegarde, a small village in the northern part of Vaucluse, near the more famous villages of Cairanne and Rasteau. Charles became very dedicated to public life in the village and he served as mayor from 1983 to 2010. He also helped to create the Syndicat des Vignerons de Saint Roman de Malegarde.

His goal when he acquired his first land was to provide for his family’s needs, and he decided to cultivate vines, melons, peaches, and apricots. His son Raymon eventually joined him, and they began to expand the holdings with the majority dedicated to vines and olive trees. The Domaine itself was established in 1997 and they now hold over 80 hectares over various villages, which have been farmed organically since beginning conversion in 2009. Raymond’s sons Daniel and Bruno went on to join the family business, with Daniel focusing on managing the vineyards, and Bruno dedicating himself to oenology and working on the cuvées. Daniel’s son Guillaume now represents the 4th generation of the family to join the company.

About the Wine:  Mixing it up here, as this wine is a bit of an outlier from the rest in this post as it is made of old-vine Carignan rather than the more typical GSM grapes of the Southern Rhône. (I’m not sure how this Carignan gets around the CdR Village level  requirements to include the GSMs in the mix.) The grapes come from the northern slopes of a vineyard in Saint-Roman-De-Malegarde in the Vaucluse department. The cooler northern exposure helps to maintain freshness in the wines. Grapes are sorted and destemmed, then vinified in concrete tanks. The wine is also aged in concrete tanks for one year.
Soils: Stony clay-limestone.
Find additional information here

Tasting Notes: Notes of warm raspberry jam, plum sauce, dried figs, and berry fruit leather hit on the nose, the dried notes showing a bit of the wine’s age. Fruits were brighter on the palate and joined by notes of red licorice, spice, pepper, and pleasantly bitter herbs on the finish. 

The Pairing and How it Worked: When I have lots of bits and pieces leftover in the fridge from various meals, I find one of the easiest ways to use them up is to combine them in a grain or pasta bowl. In this case, I had pork, carrots, and some greens leftover from making this pork tenderloin dish, along with some roasted potatoes, so I cooked up some couscous and mixed them all together, and seasoned it with za’atar to add a different flavor. Adding nuts, dried fruits, cheese, or herbs are also all easy ways to add textures and flavor contrasts. 

This wine worked quite well with all of it, and the dried and ripe fruit flavors tied in nicely with the sweeter veggies and the spice mix.

Domaine Les Aphillanthes Les Galetss Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu 2019 with Prosciutto Pizza

Blend: 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Mourvèdre | SRP: $24 (sample) |  ABV: 14.5%
Farming Practices: Certified Biodynamic

Daniel Boulle represents the fourth generation to work his family’s vines. He and his wife Hélène Boulle took over Domaine Les Aphillanthes in 1987 back when it was a modest 10 hectares, and have since increased their holdings to 30 hectares. They keep about 80% of their finest grapes and sell the rest. They also tend to limit themselves to about 130,000 bottles every year and keep their yields to about 25-30hl/ha, significantly less than the locally allowed 45hl/ha. 

They initially decided to convert to organic and biodynamic agriculture while looking for natural methods to help treat their son’s eczema. They went on to receive both of their organic and biodynamic certifications in 2007, from Ecocert and Biodivin respectively.

About the Wine: Plan de Dieu has soils of red clay that can sometimes be packed to a depth of 10 meters, mixed with smooth cobblestones throughout. Vines tend to growly sparsely in this terrain and fruit yields tend to be low. The resulting wines are dense, concentrated, and deeply colored. Grapes for this wine were hand-picked and sorted, then underwent a long, slow maceration and fermentation (~25 days). The wine was then matured in concrete vats for 18 months, followed by one year in bottle before release.
Average Vine Age: 45 years | Soil: Galets over clay and limestone
Find additional information here and here.

Tasting Notes: Aromas of raspberry jam, red plum, black cherry, and pinch white pepper hit on the nose. The same notes continued on the palate, with the pepper note growing more pronounced, with stony notes and a pinch of mixed herbs joining in the mix. The wine fruit notes were generous at the front of the palate, with a rounded body and mouthfeel that lead to a spicy finish.   

The Pairing and How it Worked: The wine worked easily with prosciutto pizza and got more supple, rounded, silky with the food. I’ve been making a lot of sourdough pizza since COVID started, and I’m happy to say it’s gotten better and better. (I’m planning a BIG pizza pairing post one of these days.) Prosciutto’s mild flavor makes it a fairly easy meat topping to pair, and I recommend adding it to the pizza once it comes out of the oven. It warms up quickly on the pizza.

Additional Pairings: The winery also recommends this wine as a pairing for Beef Bourguignon and other rich, slow-cooked stews.

Lavau Domaine La Decelle Côtes du Rhône Villages Valréas 2018 with a Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Burger

Blend: 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah | SRP: $ 14  | ABV: 13.5%  
Farming Practices: Unspecified/Conventional 

The Lavau family’s winemaking history dates back to the 19th century, starting in Saint-Émilion in Bordeaux, continuing in Tunisia, then back to France to the Rhône Valley when Jean-Guy Lavau and his wife Anne-Marie returned to France in the 1960s and took charge of a small winemaking cellar in Sablet that would eventually become Maison Lavau in 1965. The winery continues in family hands under Frédéric and Benoît Lavau. Lavau now owns 180 hectares of vineyards around the Rhône valley and works with over 350 winegrowers. 

About the Wine:  Benoît and Frédéric Lavau fell in love with Domaine la Décelle, an 82-hectare estate in Valréas, and purchased it in 2010. Valréas is distinctive for the position of its north and west-facing hillsides. Because the slopes do not experience the full force of the sun, combined with the area’s predominantly clay soils which are able to retain water and maintain cooler temperatures, vines are less vulnerable to drought than other parts of the region. Cold air blowing down from the Alpine foothills further cools the vines. Domaine la Décelle is located at the heart of the region in the Enclave des Papes, at an altitude just over 1,000 feet above sea level. The grapes undergo a long 30-day period of maceration and fermentation, with traditional rack and returns and frequent pump-overs. The wine is then aged for six months in second-use French oak barrels before bottling.
Soil: Clay and limestone.
Find additional information here

Tasting Notes: On the nose, the wine showed notes of raspberry, cherry, and thyme. These were joined on the palate by flavors of red plums, more herbs, white pepper, stones, a little anise, and violet. This was an easy-drinking wine with ripe, silky fruit notes and dusty tannins. 

The Pairing and How it Worked: I’ve been wanting a burger since putting together All About Burger Pairings a couple of weeks ago, so I decided to indulge the craving for this pairing while visiting my inlaws in San Diego. I used a combination of lamb and beef for these burgers and included some cooked onions in the mix. I also made a caramelized onion and mushroom topping to enjoy with the burgers by cooking onions in olive oil with salt and pepper until they’d started to caramelize, then adding sliced mushrooms to the pan to sauté as the onion developed deeper color. The pan was alternately deglazed with sherry vinegar, red wine, and soy sauce. We didn’t have buns on hand, so I melted cheddar cheese on English muffins to use as buns instead. (I often like the sourdough flavor of English muffins with burgers anyways.) 

These were deliciously messy burgers – be ready with lots of napkins! – but whenever I did manage to have a clean hand long enough to grab my glass of wine, it made for a very good pairing. The combination of meaty, smoky, and umami flavors all melded easily with the flavors in the wine, and the wine had plenty of fruit to stand up to the light sweetness of the caramelized onions.

Additional Pairings: The winery also recommends this wine with roast duck, pot roasts, or grilled pork loin.


Check out these previous posts and recipes related to the Rhône:


The rest of the French Winophiles (#Winophiles) blogging group is exploring Côtes du Rhône this month. Be sure to check out the rest of their posts for more pairing ideas:

Thanks to Côte du Rhônes and Teuwen Communications for providing the samples in this post. I still have one bottle to go, so we’ll hopefully see a Côtes du Rhône here again soon.



  1. Thanks for this great post, Nicole! I love all the information you made so clear. Perfect!

  2. All your pairings+wines sound delicious but the scallops in brown butter with squash is particularly elegant. The main reason I love Rhone wines is because they're blends and therefore much more nuanced, IMO.

    1. Thanks Payal! And I love these wines, so definitely sold.

  3. So I was so enamoured by your Ogier Artesis wine description and your pairing, then I scrolled down. The salmon with garlic cream sounds amazing! You did write "Parmesan creme" in the title, which inspired me also! Yum. Did you do the cream whipped? I'm really curious about this! I love the idea of a savory creme!

    1. Good point -- It was actually both, but I added it into the description as well since you pointed out. Thanks! This one was purchased and it was more of a cheese spread, but I've also done similar things with a garlic cream made of garlic and olive oil, and aioli works too as mentioned.

  4. The Domaine Gramenon La Sagesse Côtes du Rhône and Mediterreanean spread particularly caught my eye. Inspired now to pair a Rhone red with a hummus plate. Yum!


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!