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The Cote Rotie legend is a tale of two grapes

The Cote Rotie is home to some of the world's most sacred syrah wines. Nicknames for the Cote Rotie, the "Roasted Slope" and the "Burnt Hillside," conjure imagery of the dark, intense wines this region produces. This region's wine production dates to the first century.

The hillside vineyards are some of the steepest in France; in some places the incline is as much as 55 degrees making them difficult and expensive to upkeep and harvest. However, the hillsides' steep angle toward the southeast offer the vineyards the ideal amount of sunshine from sunrise to sunset, letting the grapes ripen slowly and evenly.

Two slopes, the Cotes Brune and Blonde are two adjacent hillsides and the most famous of the Cote Rotie's vineyards. The story of the "Brune" and the "Blonde" is an oft repeated legend in the region. A powerful aristocrat named Maugiron is said to have withdrawn to a chateau and gave his land to his two daughters, both incredibly beautiful; one with fair golden hair and the other with dark long locks. The legend does not tell why he bequeathed the two slopes to his daughters; some historians say kindness, while others argue he did it to evade his tax commitments. The slopes were christened according to the color of the girls' hair "the blonde being bright and lively when young, but fading quickly, the brune starting off quiet and reserved, but growing into a splendid eminence." The legend illustrates the distinct differences in the styles of the two wines.

Syrah is the only red wine grape allowed the designation of Cote Rotie; blends may contain up to 20 percent viognier.

THE VALUES

2017 Dom de Couron Cotes du Rhone Rouge, France (about $12 retail)

2017 Terres D'Avognon Cotes du Rhone, France (about $15 retail)

2017 Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone, France (about $13 retail)

2017 Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone, France (about $14 retail)

2017 Les Garrigues Red Table Wine Cotes du Rhone, France (about $15 retail)

THE SPLURGES

2017 Brunel Cotes du Rhone Rouge, France (about $18 retail)

2017 E. Guigal Cotes Du Rhone, France (about $19 retail)

2017 J. Vidal Fleury Cotes du Rhone Blanc, France (about $16 retail)

2016 Domaine Raymond Roure Crozes Hermitage, France (about $42 retail)

Lorri Hambuchen is a member of London's Institute of Wines and Spirits. Contact her at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203, or email:

uncorked@thewinecenter.com

Food on 10/10/2018

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