- Publish Date: Jun 3, 2010
Counoise: It's a flavorful French red for the right price.
If you find French wine frustrating, what with its confusing labels and high prices, you're not alone.
But if there's one thing to love about French wine, it's that wherever there's a prestigious or unaffordable bottle, there are dozens of bargains nearby just waiting to be discovered.
Our latest pleasant surprise: A French red made entirely of the Counoise (coon-WAH) grape.
First, a little background: In Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the most prestigious Southern Rhône appellation, the red wines are usually a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. But there are nearly a dozen more lesser-known grape varieties that can be blended in. You find these varieties bottled on their own about as often as you find a Chateauneuf for under $40 (rarely, if ever). One of those varieties is Counoise.
The Counoise we tried was produced by the famous estate Domaine de Monpertuis, which also makes a Chateauneuf that'll run you about $50 per bottle. The Monpertuis Cuvee Counoise will cost you a mere $12. The grape makes for a light and bright red, perfect for drinking on any old weeknight throughout the summer. It's peppery and has good acidity--you might even want to drink it slightly chilled.
There aren't many Counoise vines planted throughout France, but you can definitely find the Montpertuis or another Counoise with a quick search. And if you've had a Counoise or another obscure French red that you liked, tell us about it here.