Côtes du Rhône covers a lot of geography in the Southern Rhône. All of the subsidiary vineyards around the better-known appellations like Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas are in the category. As one might imagine, the quality of the wine varies greatly within the designation; but there is excellent value to be found if one chooses carefully.
Christelle Coulange grew up on the family’s property in Bourg St. Andéol, at the very northwest end of the appellation. The Coulange vineyards are well situated, up on a windswept slope with views that on a clear day include a tiny slice of Mont Blanc. The family has grown grapes for generations, but until Christelle went to enology school the winemaking all happened at the local cooperative. She returned home on the promise that she could make wine under her own name, and in only a decade she has carved out a fine reputation, winning medals at wine concours every year. We usually import her Côtes du Rhône “Cuvée Mistral,” a blend of four-fifths grenache and one fifth Syrah that is both eminently drinkable and a wonderful bargain.