Wine: Savour the flavour of the south
France's Rhone Valley produces a river of wine and mostly red stretching from south of Lyon to the Mediterranean coast. The tiny 5pc of white wine is often eclipsed by the region's more famous red wines, especially from Chateauneuf-du-Pape ("new palace of the Pope", when the papacy moved from Rome to Avignon during the 1400s).
Côtes du Rhône is the generic classification for any wine from the Rhône River Valley. The colour white permeates the wines' aromas – white lilies, jasmine, pale peaches and white currant fruits.
The wines are dry and generally full-bodied. Typical flavours include cake spices, nut, honeysuckle, peach and apple. Most white wines are made from a blend of local grapes.
Grenache Blanc, a white relation of the black-skinned Grenache Noir, produces a full-bodied wine. Clairette gives a complex and delicately floral aroma.
Marsanne adds hazelnut richness while Roussanne contributes a honeysuckle fragrance.
Both Bourboulenc and Picpoul balance the blend with a crisp texture and refreshing natural acidity.
Since the late 1990s, the fashionable Viognier has been used increasingly to give a musky apricot note.
Savour the flavour of the south.
1) Saint Esprit 2012 Delas, Côtes du Rhône 13pc
White peach aromas are complemented by a concentrated and complex palate of white fruits and white pepper. Accompany with baked courgettes stuffed with smoked Gubbeen and pine nuts.
€15.50 at Ardkeen Stores, Waterford. Dublin at The Corkscrew, Chatham Street; Thomas's, Foxrock and Londis, South Circular Road
2) ROMAINE DUVERNAY 2012 Côtes du Rhône 13pc
White peach and apple blossom aromas. Ripe peach flavours and an apricot finish. Perfect with grilled pork chops topped with apple, sage and breadcrumb.
€13.99 in Dublin at Wine on the Green, Dawson Street, McCabe's, Blackrock and Nolan's, Clontarf.
3) LES ABEILLES DE COLOMBO 2012 Jean-Luc Colombo, Côtes du Rhône 13.5pc
Scents of hay and richly flavoured by Rousanne, counter-balanced by nettle freshness from Clairette. Try with belly of pork strips roasted on sprigs of rosemary.
€14.49 at O'Brien's 32 off-licences nationwide and wine.ie
4) LIBRE EXPRESSION 2012 Domaine Galevan, Côtes du Rhône 13pc
Honeyed ripe peach and hazelnut flavours from a blend of Clairette, Rousanne and Marsanne. Enjoy with chicken lightly curried in coconut milk, with toasted almonds.
€18.95 at The Corkscrew, Chatham Street; Fallon & Byrne, Exchequer Street; Cheers, Delgany, Co. Wicklow and nationwide and corkscrew.ie and honest2goodness.ie
5) VIOGNIER 2012 Maison Nicolas Perrin, Coteaux d'Ardeche 12.5pc
Golden peach aromas follow on the taste buds. Match with chunks of oven roasted mushrooms, courgettes, aubergines and peppers, drizzled with olive oil.
€18.99 at Morton's, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 and The Counter, Letterkenny, Co Donegal
6) DOMAINE CHANTE CIGALE 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape 13.5pc
Subtle white fruit and blossom aromas. Tasty with fresh white peach flavours, exotic lychee fruits and a tangy finish. Sustain the exotica with an oriental dish of stir-fried rice with chicken, star anise, scallions and ginger.
€29.95 at tindalwine.com and in Dublin: Blackrock Cellar, Rock Hill