Often it is the wine label that intrigues one to sample a bottle of wine. Such was the case when I was sent two bottles of Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône to review. As an art major in college, one of my favorite art movements is Art Nouveau. The organic style and use of natural forms and curved lines was very apparent and quite evident in the poster and graphic art of that period. Such artists as Toulouse – Lautrec and Mucha defined the style in their posters. The Les Dauphins’ label brings forth an image of that period of time and as I sipped the wine it made me feel as if I should be in a bistro or café in Paris.
As it turns out the history of Les Dauphins begins in the 1920s and the winery was developed with the concept to create “delicious wines that fueled creative revolution in bistros across Paris”. This was a time when artists, musicians and writers come together sharing ideas. Writers like Hemingway and artists like Picasso were at the forefront of this movement.
Les Dauphins vineyards are located in the southern portion of France’s Rhone Valley. Known as the Côtes de Rhône the wines consist primarily of Grenache and Syrah.
The first wine I sampled from Les Dauphins was the 2014 Côtes Du Rhône Villages Puyméras Rouge. The wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Carignan. This is a medium bodied wine that on first taste is very tart with cranberry flavors. I sampled this wine over a two-day period. On the second day the wine was more fruit forward and hints of black pepper were quite apparent.
The second wine from Les Dauphins was the 2015 Côtes du Rhône Réserve Rouge. This wine is a combination 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 5% Mouvédre. The wine is more fruit forward than the Puyméras. I could definitely taste the additional Syrah, which is what makes this wine more fruit forward and the fact that the wine is a year younger. I found earthy flavors of blackcurrant and notes of white pepper.
Both wines are excellent but the Puyméras seemed softer perhaps because this wine was a little older.
While drinking both wines and visualizing myself sitting at the turn of the century in a Paris café, I understand why this winery’s philosophy is about bringing out the “pleasure and versatility” and at the same time letting the wines express themselves with unique freshness.