Summer Solstice. A beautiful sunny Saturday. A quiet day of relaxation at home for Purple Teeth.
The neighbours had other ideas. Shrill laughter, giggly screaming, fun and games. A hen party in the back garden behind mine.
If you can't beat them, join them? No-one home to party with, no pre-nuptial camaraderie required, one post-wedding-party invitation declined due to a poorly foot, one lonely wine-blogger suddenly feeling sorry for herself.
The solution: Wine!
Whatever the question!
I was kindly sent this Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc by Roberson Wines for review. At £9.95 it's a really good value bottle. You'll find it here, if you want to buy it online, or, you can pick up a bottle in their Kensington High Street shop if you're based in our nation's capital.
So here we have a Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc made from a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier. They're traditional Rhône varieties that, in this combination, produce a full-bodied wine with a fascinating flavour profile and a long finish. (That's wine-speak for a taste that lingers in the mouth long after you've swallowed the wine).
Has this wine got miraculous properties? Shortly after the natural cork was pulled, the inanities of the girly group faded to nothing, and the white noise of a nearby lawnmower felt almost welcome. Free tolerance boost with every bottle! Mr Purple Teeth will doubtless buy a case full when he reads this.
But what of its taste, you wonder:
Bold, full flavours of peach mixed with grapefruit and white flowers come to mind. The Roussanne in the blend may even be contributing some honeysuckle. From the elegant Viognier, perhaps some quince. These flavours mingle with perhaps a less juicy & crisp acidity than one might wish for on a summer day. These grapes produce a mellow and stylish wine rather than a refreshing slurp.
I felt I could detect some "pink" flavours reminiscent of Grenache Gris, or perhaps it was just over-ripe apricot.
Close your eyes and you might even imagine you were drinking a delicate pink wine, but for the mouthfeel. Not quite oily, there's a real mouth filling viscosity that makes each sip satisfying, even without food. For those red wine drinkers who claim to never drink white, you might even like this on a summer evening. The lower acidity and full body creates a textural sensation you should find appealing. The grapes are grown in the area of Châteauneuf-du-Pape by a winemaker who, until recently sold his grapes in bulk, rather than making his own wine. His subsequent low profile keeps prices affordable for now.
When you think of Côtes-du-Rhône, do you think red? Last year's award-winning advertising campaign by Rhône wines focused on the famous reds from the region, encouraging us to drink more Grenache (noir) blends. It's hardly surprising that one of my wine-drinking followers (who loves Rhône wine) claimed to have never seen a Rhône white...
A recent Facebook post by a Purple Teeth fan asked what's the difference between Grenache and Grenache noir.
They are the same. But while red Grenache wine is fairly well known (it's one of the most widely planted reds worldwide), there is now much more awareness of Grenache Blanc (blended in our current bottle) & Grenache Gris (usually used to produce rosé), so good old fashioned Grenache has had a superfluous "noir" added for the avoidance of doubt.
In fact, the Rhône valley is home to 27 grape varieties, and though just 6% of wine produced is white, there are some highly prestigious whites within the Rhône's 26 appellations. For example, Condrieu is famous for saving Viognier from extinction, and for producing some spectacular wines from it.
Purple Teeth rating: a really interesting wine that will appeal to the more adventurous white drinker. If you've never had a Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc, this could be just the wine to introduce you to a number of new varieties.
Too full of flavour if Pinot Grigio is your bag, it should float your boat if you prefer Pinot Gris.
Perhaps too low in acidity for a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling drinker, but with enough aromatic interest to suggest giving it a try.
And when the lawnmower stopped, the silence was golden, just like the glow from my glass.
My name's Heather and I've been enjoying wine for over 20 years. I'm the 2013 winner of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust Rhone prize for oustanding students at the advanced level.