Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone: Intro to Rhone
When the average wine drinker thinks of French wine, places like Bordeaux and Champagne likely come to mind. However, the Rhone Valley is an extremely overlooked and undervalued region of France. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to find extremely tasty and affordable wine, particularly from Cotes du Rhone.
Cotes du Rhone officially covers the entire wine region of Rhone, though many come from Southern Rhone. To narrow it down further, southern Rhone blends, commonly referred to as Grenache-Syrah-Mouvedre (GSM) blends, are the perfect starting point. They provide a general sense of the region with great value and taste. To top it off, Famille Perrin’s Cotes du Rhone wines are historically some of the best quality and value wines in the region.
A Brief History of the Perrin Family
Famille Perrin produces a variety of styles within the Cotes du Rhone AOC alone, ranging from reds to whites and even rosés. Famille Perrin’s family and wine history in the Rhone Valley date back to the 16th century, but they made their claim to fame after World War II.
In 1909, Château de Beaucastel, the heart of Famille Perrin’s wine venture, came into the family’s possession. The family slowly replanted vineyards and built the winery up. After World War II, Jacques Perrin embraced the organic wine culture and focused on eliminating chemicals and other controversial things. In 1978, Jacques sons, Jean-Pierre and Francois took over and continued with their father’s work. Now, Jean-Pierre’s son is running the show with his father, uncle, and siblings alongside him.
While the Chateau de Beaucastel is the hallmark of their wine portfolio, they have accumulated vineyards throughout southern Rhone in AOCs such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Rasteau, Vacqueyras, Vinsobres, and Tavel. They even started Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, California. The family has consistently maintained their ethos based around sustainability and quality all while expanding their vineyards and wine production. All of their wines are worth checking out, but we will be focusing on those specifically labeled under Cotes du Rhone.
Famille Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone Rouge
Famille Perrin’s Reserve Cotes du Rhone is their entry-level red Cotes du Rhone. It can easily be found all over the United States and is usually under $12. The 2019 vintage was 40% grenache, 40% Mourvedre, and 20% Syrah. After blending, the wine is aged for a year in oak barrels and stainless steel vats. If you are not familiar with Rhone wine or aren’t very adventurous (yet), this is the place to start.
It’s relatively light and fairly fruit-forward with ripe black cherry, plum, and even some red fruits. It also has plenty of characteristics that make Rhone blends the beautiful bottles they are. Some of these include pepper, spices, tobacco, and woody notes and aromas. I consider this to be a good entry-level Cotes du Rhone due to its light fruit-forward nature.
Famille Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone Blanc
White Rhone blends are some of the most underappreciated white wines out there. In my very biased opinion, they are the best white wines in the world. Famille Perrin’s Reserve Cotes du Rhone Blanc provides the perfect gateway into white Rhone wines. These are usually under $12 and carry the complex characteristics of other white wines in the region. The 2021 vintage is made up of Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier.
This Cotes du Rhone Blanc has a noticeable deepness and fullness to it. The immediate notes and aromas are those of pear and melon. As it opens up, there will be more minerality and gravel notes. All of this is rounded out and brought together by a slight honey and lemon sweetness.
Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Rosé
This is everything you want in a French rosé, and again, it is usually under $12. Alongside the great quality and price, Famille Perrin’s Cote du Rhone Rosé is a great introduction to rosé from southern Rhone. The grapes used to make this beautiful blend are Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah. If you like this one, then you should keep an out for rosés from the region of Tavel.
The dominant notes and aromas we found here were strawberry and citrus. As the wine breaths for a little, hints of minerals, grapefruit, and banana surface. This bottle is very medium-bodied and has the perfect crisp at the finish.
Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Villages Rouge
Famille Perrin’s “Villages” Cotes du Rhone is last because it is my favorite of the ones mentioned. The term “Villages” means that the grapes are sourced from 21 specific villages in Cotes du Rhone. These designated villages are considered to have a combination of great quality and unique characteristics. With that said, a “villages” Cotes du Rhone can be produced from grapes from any of the 21 Villages. This blend is made with Grenache and Syrah and is aged in oak barrels, oak foudres, and stainless steel vats.
Imagine Famille Perrin’s Reserve Cotes du Rhone rouge but far more intense and funky. You end up with this tasty, savory bottle of wine. It has all of the dark and red fruits, but the spices, tobacco, pepper, and herbal-earthy funk is more intense and provide more complexity. Keep in mind, this is still a great introduction to Rhone and southern Rhone wines. Compared to some you may find in neighboring AOCs such as Lirac and Chateauneuf du Pape, these are still fairly light and approachable.