Counoise Varietal

Yesterday I tasted Holly’s Hill’s 2009 El Dorado Counoise.

Counoise? you wonder.

Indeed.  As did I.  It seems that the Counoise is an obscure Rhone varietal, one of 13 which is allowed in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend.  It is use almost exclusively in blends, and not in very large quantities.

Holly’s Hill grows and uses Counoise in their Patriarch blend, in quantities of between 1% and 5%.  But in ’09 they had enough to make a single varietal wine of Counoise wine.  I hope they’ll make this a regular offering.

My reading on Counoise’s taste profile is largely not what I experienced tasting Holly’s Hill’s wine.  According to my sources, the Counoise will be rustic and earthy tasting of dark plums and herbs with a peppery finish and a high acid content.

What I tasted, however, is a light and elegant red, with a delicate strawberry scent as well as a lovely strawberry and cherry flavor.  It does have a lightly spicy finish and is fairly acid.  I think that this is perhaps the perfect summer red: not overwhelming with fruit and tannins, but light and wonderful paired with salmon or fruit.  It went well with itself, and would be a nice alternative to a rose.

They only bottled about 100 cases of this wine…and I have 2 bottles in my cellar now.  The price is $20/bottle.

Holly’s Hill Wines

El Dorado County

Highly Recommended

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About dslocicero

David is an author and architect living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He writes about wine, food and travel. His first book is Pour Me Another: An Opinionated Guide to Gold Country Wines, now one of the highest rated books about California Wines.

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