A few days ago I opened another bottle of my Trader Joe‘s wine case. It was a Côtes du Rhône Villages, and I paid $6.99 for it. Valréas “Cuvée Prestige” is the main text on the label. It’s 75 percent Grenache and 25 percent Syrah, is a product of Les Vigneron de l’Enclave des Papes, and it’s (obviously) from France.
We were making hamburgers — hand-cut short rib mixed with some chuck — and decided that the Valréas’ time had come. I opened the bottle and poured a small amount into my glass, and the first taste was a bit tight. I hoped it would loosen, but in the meantime enjoyed the cherry and raspberry notes. I grated a white onion into the meat mixture, then ground some salt and black pepper into it. I formed the patties, then, in the middle of each, added a pat of butter. James Beard’s books taught me that, and I have followed his tutelage for years now when it comes to hamburgers.
We poured more wine, and were pleased at its change, slight though it was. Rounder, relaxed, with supple yet soft tannins. We sipped a bit, began grilling the burgers, and set about buttering the buns, which we would grill alongside the patties. The wine was definitely worth the price, and was a good pairing with our medium-rare burgers. The crispy charring of the meat, the slight spice imparted by the onion, the aioli — all three of these profiles seemed to love the wine.
Côtes du Rhône Villages is a great classification to know, and the wines are often great values. Start with this one, if you wish; I doubt you will be unhappy if you do.
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