Côtes du Rhône Villages - Plan de Dieu AOC
Taking up one of the 20 named Côtes du Rhône Villages spots, Plan-de-Dieu is located in the southern Rhône Valley and just to the north of the region of Vaucluse (Provence).
Sitting in between Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas it’s a tiny appellation (only 2500 acres) with prestigious neighbors.
Many of you won’t have heard of Plan-de-Dieu which was added to the other CDR Villages AOC in 2005. AOC wines from this area are red and have stricter controls than regular Côtes du Rhône. They are made using a blend of classic CDR grape varieties, specifically of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah (Shiraz).
Strict AOC rules state:
Must be 50% Grenache, 20% Shiraz and/or 20% Mourvèdre, the other 10% being the wine makers discretion Minimum permitted alcohol content is 12.5%
This may seem high but when I tried them they didn’t seem “hot” at all - quite the opposite actually and they were a joy to drink. Although my head the next day could have been a result of "hot wines" or the fact that I just drank too much of it!
Plan de Dieu = God’s plain, Plan Dei, and as much of the Old World’s wine history is church based I suspect that there is some constellation there.
Soils here are clay, gravel and sandstone which means that the roots have to work hard to reach water - a fact that is a good thing in winemaking.
Wines here are concentrated and rich with deep red and black berry fruit. They are spicy with scents of the surrounding countryside which is full of wild Thyme and garrigue. These wines have something to say and with time develop layers of leather and licorice with age.
I tried the Romain Duvernay Plan-de-Dieu 2015 which was, to me, amazing and so out of the blue that I had to go back the next day to buy some more. I was really surprised by it’s depth and by how easy it was on the palate. Tannins were medium but definitely the wine could be drunk alone - which it was....a lot!
With food, I had the wine with some simple chicken marinated with lemon, garlic and thyme and it worked tremendously. I even had a mouthful with some (in season) plums poached with lemon and cinnamon and the marriage was incredible.