The 2018 Côtes du Rhône “Variations” is thrilling. Its velvety texture, rich pure flavors, length, and powerful concentration set it above almost every Côtes du Rhône on the market. It’s more like Gigondas or Châteauneuf du Pape. The color is deep ruby purple. The enticing aromas bring to mind blackberries, black cherries, pepper, lavender, and violets. The palate is intensely flavored, deep, full, and rich. There's loads of deep black and blue fruit complemented with subtle peppery spice and licorice. The tannins are ripe, giving a sense of structure to the ripe fruit as it stretches to a long and velvet-textured finish. Young and concentrated, give it a half hour in the decanter then serve it with a grilled ribeye steak or even an herbed rotisserie chicken. The impressive concentration suggests it will keep at least 4 more years.
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