MOVIES & BOOZE: Jean Smullen on the wines of Southern France

The wine expert joins Sean Moncrieff...

Heading for the South of France today for two wines that are enormously popular, particularly with male wine drinkers (though we do know the ladies love their red too!). If Pinot Grigio is the grape of choice among the ladies who love to drink wine, all you have to say to a man are those three little words…. No not THOSE.. but rather “Chateauneuf du Pape”, immediately their eyes light up, because CdP are those three little words that the wine drinking male LOVES to hear…. BUT… CdP can be pricey.. so today, as lean January looms, let's look at two CdP “lookalikes” that offer a similar style but are a lot less pricey.

2015 Remy Ferbras Rasteau €14.99

Stockists: SuperValy & Centra, nationwide

Chateauneuf du Pape is a French wine region in the centre of the Rhone. It translates at “new castle of the Pope” and refers to the period in history know as the Avignon Papacy a period from 1309 to 1377 during which seven successive Popes resided in France rather than in Rome. In 1317, one year after his election, the second French Pope, John XXII (the 22nd) ordered the construction of a castle at the top of the hill above the village, which is where the name of the region originated from.

The AOP is predominantly for red wine and Châteauneuf-du-Pape is traditionally allowed to have thirteen different varietals in the blend, though in reality it is usually 4-5. Grenache Noir is the predominante grape blended with a little Cinsaut, Mourvedre, and Syrah.

This style of blended red wine can be found all over the South of France in the Languedoc, Provence and throughout most of the Southern Rhone. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the most popular and best know appellations for this wine style in the Southern Rhone.

Which brings us to Rasteau… the original AOP for fortified red wines and was granted in 1944. As that wine style fell out of fashion, the region made more and more still red wines. It was awarded its own AOP in 2009. Rasteau wines are of a similar style to the wines produced in CdP. They have the stone “galetts” rocks which litter the vineyards, reflecting sunlight on to the maturing grapes, encouraging them to ripen.
Grenache Noir is the dominant grape and is blended with Cinsaut, Mourvedre and Syrah. The wines can be lighter in style and a little more refined. If you are looking for a good value alternative to your CdP. .then this is wine to look at. Same style, a little more refined but MUCH more competitively priced.

2015 Cru de Cotes du Rhone, Cellier des Dauphins AOP Vinsobres €12.00

Stockists: Dunnes Stores, Nationwide

You’ll find another great CdP “lookalike” on offer at Dunnes Stores at the moment. The Vinsobres region was part of the Cotes du Rhone appellation until 2006. The wines must contain 50% Grenache Noir and 25% Syrah (and/or) Mourvedre.

In keeping with our wines with a religious connection Vinsobres or “sober wine, drink it soberly" was the motto of Monseigneur de Suarès (bishop of Vaison and a staunch fan of these wines) in 1633.
The appellation's soil is also very stoney, which allows the vines to ripen early with a high concentration of fruit flavours. Made mainly of Grenache and Syrah, the region produces dark red complex wines with spicy flavours that are very suited to ageing.

Côte du Rhône's traditional grape, Grenache, represents 72.34% of plantations in the area. Syrah, a variety that is particularly successful on the cooler plots, represents 18.23%. The young wines contain notes of cherry and blackcurrant jam, pepper, herbs, and spices.

So once again, you have a much more competitively priced CdP “style” of wine from a nearby AOP which is relatively new. If you love these southern French style wines, makes sure you snap em up while they are still on offer over what remains of the Christmas period.

Wine Diary Events:


Thursday 19th January, 2017 Venue: Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8.
Tickets are now on sale priced at €15.00.

The 20th anniversary tasting by New Zealand wines in Ireland is definitely not to be missed. In this anniversary year, New Zealand’s top wine producers will be presenting a comprehensive range of their wines with 14 varieties on show from across six New Zealand regions. Over 35 wineries will be represented at the Dublin show in 2017 with over 150 New Zealand wines available to taste.

Participating wineries for the 2017 New Zealand Winegrowers annual tasting include: Aotea, Ara, Babich, Blank Canvas , Brancott Estate, Burn Cottage, Cloudy Bay, Delta, Drowsy Fish, Esk Valley, Felton Road, Giesen, Greywacke, Kapuka, Kim Crawford, Lawson’s Dry Hills, Matua, Nautilus, Opawa, Oyster Bay, Rapaura Springs, Ribbonwood, Rua, Saint Clair, Seifried, Spy Valley, Stolen Heart, The Ned, Tinpot Hut, Trinity Hill, Two Tracks, Vidal Estate, Villa Maria, Wild Earth Wines, Wither Hills Yealands and many more…

To purchase tickets online at: (Credit Card accepted) or you can find more details on