I already have more favorite Cotes du Rhone wines than I can keep up with, but this one attracted my attention by a price tag that harkened back to the days when the dollar was strong against the Euro--$7.99. And it was good enough to send me back to D&W FreshMarkets for a few more bottles.
Les Trois Couronnes comes from vineyards near Tulette, about 15 kilometers from Valreas and about the same distance from Vaison la Romaine in the Southern Rhone. The color is deep, dark and bluish--enough to make you think it might be oak-influenced. The smells and flavors tell me otherwise, however. It has a robust, peppery Grenache nose with all the qualities you'd expect from a Cotes du Rhone Villages, such as Cairanne. Red and black fruit, spice and more pepper--this time the type of pepper you expect from Syrah. The wine is 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, but at this stage, the Syrah is more than holding its own.
The same qualities carry over to the palate, and there's good fruit concentration. I find a bit more tartness and tannic firmness than I would expect from a Cotes du Rhone, but it's not at all unpleasant and the flavors seem to grow as the wine airs and warms in the glass. As a Cotes du Rhone lover, I approve. And Donna, who prefers Australian Shiraz, is equally enthusiastic.