April 4, 2024|In Focus On, Wines

A Tale of Two Rhônes

Two Top Players in a Popular Category

The tale of Ogier's Rhones

From the Swiss Alps to the Mediterranean Sea, the Rhône River meanders through one of France’s most storied wine regions, the namesake Rhône Valley. 

The region is noted as the homeland of both Syrah and Viognier, as well as other natives such as Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and perhaps most importantly, Dhall & Nash’s own Jean-Jacques Bourvis. The Rhône Valley is also renowned as a gastronomic destination within Europe, so to have a world class wine region right on their doorstep is as convenient as it is serendipitous. 

“Bold in fruit and spiced with Mediterranean garrigue, the sun-drenched wines of the Côtes du Rhône are the crowd-pleasing little black dress of the wine world.”
– Wine Enthusiast, Anna Lee C. Iijima

The Rhône Valley in a Nutshell

We’ve covered the mighty Rhône Valley extensively over on our earlier blog here, but for those that are reaching the end of their cup of reading-coffee, we’ll summarise a bit for you.Not only is Côtes du Rhône one of the most productive appellations in all of France, but it’s also one of the oldest and the second-largest appellation in France. Only Bordeaux has more hectares planted with vines. The entire region is about 44,000 hectares with 31,926 hectares under vine. Producing over 400 million litres of wine in the region annually. Translating to close to 200 Million dollars’ worth of wine being produced here every year.

Although we often talk about the wines of the Rhône Valley as a single entity, the Northern and Southern regions are very different. The immensity of this celebrated wine region in reality, has meant it has always been divided both geographically and stylistically. The North is separated from the South by a 30-kilometre stretch from Valence to Montelimar of green lush countryside where there are no vines at all.

Not only is the North (known as ‘septrionale’ in French) much smaller and more densely planted than the South, but also its climate is continental, hot summers and very cold winters. Northern Rhône is also deeply terroir-driven which could be seen as a natural extension of Burgundian philosophies and so is largely responsible for the most prestigious crus meanwhile the south (with some exceptions) is most important in terms of volume.

The Tale of the Two Rhônes

A map of the Rhone Valley

Dhall & Nash represents two wonderful houses producing wine in the Rhône Valley, with wines across the board from affordable table wines that absolutely sing with the sorts of foods Kiwis love in winter, to top-shelf fine bottlings from single parcels. We want to compare apples to apples today (grapes to grapes?) so we will focus on two top players in this popular category, one from each producer, that offer exceptional value for money – the Paul Jaboulet Aîné ‘Parallele 45’ Côtes du Rhône Rouge and the Ogier ‘Héritages’ Côtes du Rhône Rouge.

Whilst Paul Jaboulet Aîné is primarily situated in the north and the Ogier domaine in the south, both work with growers from around the region to makes up their unique styles of Côtes du Rhône wines.

Northern Contender: Paul Jaboulet Aîné ‘Parallele 45’ Côtes du Rhône Rouge

The Rhones' Paul Jaboulet Aine

The ‘Parallele 45’ (or P45 as we affectionately call it,) Côtes du Rhône is named for the 45th Parallel. The 45th parallel is a latitudinal ‘line’ around the planet, 45 degrees north of the Equator. It’s significant as it runs through a number of renowned wine regions including Burgundy, Piedmont and Oregon and also runs two kilometres from the domaine’s cellars.

Paul Jaboulet Aîne is a storied producer dating back nearly two centuries. It was established by Antoine Jaboulet and is now run by the wine-famous Frey family. When the family acquired Paul Jaboulet Ainé in 2006, Caroline Frey took up the role of winemaker and viticulturist there. Caroline is fast becoming one of the top winemakers in France, admired for her persistence for quality. Under her leadership, the Paul Jaboulet Ainé vineyards were certified for Sustainable Farming and she now follows organic and biodynamic practices. In initiating this, Caroline also wanted to extend this philosophy to their CdR wines. “The hot and dry climate of the Côtes du Rhône and the Mistral are ideal for organic viticulture. Partnerships have been forged with carefully selected winegrowers to draw up a harmonious blending true to Parallèle 45’ origins,” she explains.

Paul Jaboulet Aîné owns the famed La Chapelle Vineyard. An icon, the chapel, after which it is named, was built in 1235 and sits at the top of the hill. It is small and simple, yet one of the most powerful images in the world of wine. The region Hermitage is so called after the hermit that used to live there alone on the hill.

Southern Contender: Maison Ogier ‘Héritages’ Côtes du Rhône Rouge

The Rhones' Ogier

From Southern Rhône comes our Maison Ogier (“Oh-jee-eer”) Héritages Côtes du Rhône. Founded in 1859 in the centre of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Maison Ogier’s aim today is quite simply to grow the best grapes and make the best wines possible: a commitment to quality and to the region and its heritage.

Ogier’s expertise has grown over 150 years, during which time it has brought back into use traditional forms of cask that had fallen into disuse and introduced new ones.

Ogier is behind the famous Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes A.O.C Châteauneuf-duPape. With its distinctive label, unchanged since it was designed in 1928 and undisputed quality, it is recognised by wine writers and wine lovers from all over the world and is a true testament to the quality this house is known for.

Their Héritages range is their more accessible line, offering supremely easy drinkability and accessibility. An established brand for 20 years, it draws back to the Ogier heritage and is a reflection of the house’s know-how. The wines in the Héritages collection are based on long-term partnerships with winegrowers spread over all the Rhône Valley crus. Every year, they organise a blind tasting of all the partners’ wines, with the growers and partners invited to join, taste and grade the wines with them, so they are included in all aspects of the process, and it’s very collaborative but closely overseen by Ogier, with quality being of utmost importance.

“An elegant style of Côtes du Rhône at an extraordinarily low price.”
– Decanter

Paul Jaboulet Aîné 'Parallele 45' Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2021 Maison Ogier 'Héritages' Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2022
60% Grenache, 40% Syrah 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre
Clay and Lime Stone Alluvial terrace topped with quaternary limestone gravel formed by the Aigues and the ouveze rivers.
Organic, Biodynamic, Vegan Organic
Traditional vinification with long vatted, controlled fermentation temperatures with pump-overs every day. Stainless steel tanks for 9 onths and in wooden tronconic vats. De-stemming of 95% of the harvest. The absence of crushing allows enzymatic fermentation to being in the grapes during the first few days, before they burst to reinforce the fruity notes.
Indian spices and a smooth complexity. A structured mouth and nice length. The tannins are soft and polished which makes the tasting very pleasant. The mouth is dominated by the suavity of the Grenache that expresses on ripe fruit, figs and plums. The Syrah gives some vivacity and greediness to this great Cotes du Rhone, showing silky tannins.
James Suckling - 90 points Denater - 88 points
$18.95 Wholesale $16.95 Wholesale

Characterful dramatic reds, from affordable to rare, intriguingly unique, and exotic whites – The Rhône Valley is a veritable goldmine for wine lovers of every ilk and budget. If you’re seeking stuffy, elitist wine, this may not be quite right. Yes, we get it, some Northern Rhône big boys are powerful, dense, and dripping in luxury, which is just grand for the collectors, but the joyous beauty of this whole wine region is that there’s a gem for everyone – collectors with deep cellars, terroir geeks, BBQ bargain hunters. The Côtes du Rhône is the region to explore! Happy hunting and drinking fellow imbibers.

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