Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Red Wine Review: Les Deux Rives Corbieres

Les Deux Rives Corbieres Rouge 2005

Val d'Orbieu Les Deux Rives Corbieres rouge wine bottleSummer is the best time for drinking white and pink wines, but that doesn’t mean you should swear off reds completely. In fact, now is a good time to sample lighter reds that you might not consider during the braising and roasting seasons of autumn and winter.

One such lighter-bodied red, which I find to be a nice match for an array of summertime meals, is Les Deux Rives Corbieres rouge (lay doo reev core bee air rooozh). If you didn’t take French 101, and don’t know much about France’s wine geography, you might have some trouble pronouncing this wine, much less understanding all the gobbledygook on the label.

First, let’s talk about the brand name. “Les Deux Rives” is the name representing the best wine blend of Corbieres produced by les Vignerons du Val d’Orbieu, a group of winegrowers based in Narbonne in Southern France (Val d’Orbieu is in small print somewhere on the label, but this wine is best known by the former moniker).

Additionally, “Les Deux Rives” means “the two banks”, as of a river or other water current (as opposed to Chase and Wachovia). In this case, it refers to the two banks of the Canal du Midi, a canal built in the 1600s that ran through the Corbieres region connected the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. It was one of the most important routes for transporting wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon to northern France, Europe and beyond. The label, in fact, is a rendition of a 1920s postcard of the Canal. So now you have a cool story to tell your friends when you’re pouring the wine.

In addition to the story of the label, it’s helpful to know something about Corbieres. The Corbieres is one of the largest wine appellations in France, a sub-region of the Languedoc-Roussillon, located in the south of France, below Minervois and along the Mediterranean Sea. The main grape grown there is Carignan, which you’ll see throughout the south of France and also in California, and is usually used in combination with other grapes such as Grenache and Cinsault. For a long time, the wines of Corbieres were considered “cheap plonk”, and deserved little attention from critics. However, there are now many fine wines produced in the region, including several excellent values.

This Corbieres from Les Deux Rives is a blend of mostly Grenache and Syrah, with lesser amounts of Mourvedre and Carignan. The nose is soft, not too expressive. Smells of black cherry, hints of earth and tar. Soft and easy on the palate. Not too complex, but good balance and structure that makes it an ideal match for mildly flavored foods, seasoned fish (blackened), fried chicken, hash browns, mild cheeses. Acidity is medium, tannins are soft to medium. Flavors are black cherry, cranberry, red raspberry, touch of mineral, and an earthy, herbal / vegetal component. Smooth texture.

I discovered this wine about six or seven years ago ever since have had it on my list of reliable standbys. Year in and year out, Les Deux Rives provides a consistent flavor profile and structure that is typical of the Corbieres. It’s a step above Beaujolais, a step below Syrah (more like Grenache) — a solid, “bistro” wine and good value. Match it with roasted chicken, lamb, mac and cheese, burgers, and pretty much anything off the grill.

a-7 t-7 b-8 fc-8 v-8 ~ 88 Points

Importers: Pasternak Wine Imports and Martin Sinkoff Wines

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  1. [...] There are some nice light-bodied reds from this French region. My favorite is Les Deux Rives, a soft red that is light enough to match with fish, yet has just enough to be passable with [...]

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