Speaking of Côtes du Rhône, may I make a suggestion related to this particular region that In fact, during these scorching dog days that we are enduring in Chicago, would be,I think,a more appropriate choice than the rather non-spectacular and rather alcool-heavy Cellier du Rhône that you tried, and that personally I am not too fond of.
I am talking about the rosé wine from ''La Ferme Julien'', ($5.99 at T.J's) one of the brands from Perrin et Fils company, located near Avignon. This well-established producer and also bottler (in this case they buy wines from various good regional wine growers and assemble the wines), of good Southern Côtes du Rhône, has acquired quite a faithful following of fans all over the world. Some of their wines including the well-made Réserve Perrin that sells at T.J's for $ 9.99, or the splendid Beaucastel, one of the best Chateauneuf-du-Pape money can buy, and of various Côtes du Rhône Villages, like a superb Vinsobres, are sold in the U.S in good wine stores. In this country the Perrin brothers also sell under the trade name '' La Vieille Ferme'', a line of red, white and rosé Côtes du Ventoux and Côtes du Lubéron. These very pleasant, fragrant and refreshing wines are part of an AOC (appellation d'origine controllée- a French government controlled classification) that belongs to the larger Rhône Valley regional appellation is not specifically a Côtes du Rhône since the vineyards are not located on hills located on hills (côtes) or parcels located on each bank of the Rhône river. But they are a few miles away either on the slopes or low elevation plains near the chains of the very beautiful small mountains of Mont Ventoux, near Carpentras, and Montagnes du Lubéron a bit farther South-East.
But they share with the CDR some of the same types of grapes. Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah.
La Ferme Julien rosé 2009 is practically similar to its cousin La Vieille Ferme rosé 2009: 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah. In fact I sometimes suspect that La Ferme Julien is a ''private labeling'' variation of the same wine.
The result is a charming dry but quite fragrant and fruity blend that goes marvelously well with any type of summer dishes such as Salade Niçoise, lamb chops on the grill, ratatouille, and anything from the barbecue. it is also perfect as a before-dinner drink with small appetizers such as olives, tapenade, anchovies, crostinis, mini-pizzas, or fried zucchinis or eggplant.
And at $5.99 a bottle its quite a treat of a wine for the money.
P.S The red Ferme Julien 2009, also a Côtes du Ventoux selling at T.J's for $ 5.99, is equally delicious, light and fragrant, and is a perfect summer companion to grilled meats, sausages, chicken, and pizza.