That being said, I always have 2 or 3 Cotes du Rhones in my kitchen rack. There's no other wine I'd rather drink on an everyday basis. They're good with just about any meat dish and I've had them on numerous occasions with shrimp dishes, grilled or pan fried salmon and grilled tuna as well. The best ones are blends based mostly on the Grenache grape with other Rhone Valley varietals playing smaller but important supporting roles. For me, the common thread that links good Cotes du Rhones from different producers, is the black pepper element in the aromas. As soon as I smell that, I know I have what I like - as long as the fruit is there as well.
The 2010 Pont de Nyons Cotes du Rhone is a private label project of HB Wine Imports and R. Shack Selections, bottled by a friend of theirs in the village of Cairanne. 2009 and '10 were wonderful vintages in this part of the wine world, and this bottling gave me all I could want. The blend in this case consists of 70% Grenache, and 10% each Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault. Forthcoming aromas of black cherry, black pepper and what the French call "garrigues", a blend of local spice elements that may or may not suggest lavender, rosemary or thyme etc., are supported by mineral elements from the old vines that produced this fruit in very stony soils. In the mouth, there's lovely texture to the dark berry flavors, excellent supporting acidity and pepper and mineral elements repeating on the long, lightly tannic finish. This everyday winner cost me a mere $9.99. Cheers.