I'm always walking the aisle looking for a different wine -- a wine that comes from an often-forgotten region, like Chinon or Alsace, or a wine that uses ancient grape varieties like those from Campania and Sicily. Sometimes I'm rewarded; other times I understand why these regions and grapes are forgotten. Wine, like life, is a box of chocolates.
Over the years I occasionally grabbed a bottle of Beaumes-de-Venise during these excursions and I've always been rewarded. And, I was again with the 2015 Domaine de Durban Beaumes-de-Venise, a wine imported to the U.S. by Kermit Lynch.
This southern Rhone region in the department of Vaucluse has an interesting history. It is known more for its sweet fortified wine, Muscat Beaumes-de-Venise. In fact, it was the fortified wine that was first to earn the AOC status. It too is an excellent dessert wine, but I really like the unfortified wine made from grenache, syrah and mourvedre.
For years the rouge was overshadowed by the luxurious muscat. It wasn't until 2005 that the rouge (and the muscat) were declared a cru -- the highest honor bestowed on wines in southern Rhone. That slow progress means the wines are relatively inexpensive -- around $20 for the Durban. Values like this are hard to come by in France.
The mix of classic Rhone grapes gives the Beaumes-de-Venise a lot of red fruit flavors and hints of lavender, pepper and dried spices. It's not meant for long-term aging.
I loved this wine. At this price I can even buy a few more bottles.