When I see these bottles in the cellar, with the silly label, I always wonder why I bought so many. The Rhoning Stones? Come on. No bad puns needed; I want to know who made the wine and where the vineyards are located. Sure there are large stones in the Southern Rhone, and, as the label suggests, they can result in wines of great mineral depth. But most of these stones are in Chateauneuf du Pape, not the broad Cotes du Rhone appellation.
When I open a bottle and taste the wine, as I did tonight, I remember why I bought it. The color is deep and dark, and intriguing scents come from the glass--the strawberry and black peppercorn of Grenache plus the dark berry and cassis of Syrah. Also a bit of the floral prettiness of Mourvedre. Everything to be expected and in good proportions. On the palate, the wine is ripe upfront with rich flavors that open up nicely on the mid-palate. The finish is long and complex. This is more than an every day Cotes du Rhone, and I would like to know who produced it. Maybe the grapes did come from stoney vineyards after all. It reminds me of the Petit Avril Cotes du Rhone produced by the maker of Clos des Papes that I bought fairly regularly in the late 1990s.
I paid $6.88 for the Rhoning Stones at Cost Plus World Market last December. And I'm glad I bought half a case because it's not there any longer.