What’s in My Glass? Counoise


Chances are, if you go into your local wine store or bar and ask for Counoise, the salesperson or bartender will look at you like you’re crazy.

If you stumble upon this French grape anywhere, however, go for it.

Counoise hails from France’s Southern Rhône Valley, where it makes up a meager (read: virtually nonexistent) percentage of plantings and is usually blended into the complex wines ofChateauneuf-du-Pape.

In blends, these bright purple berries add fruity flavors and soften the harsh tannins contributed by heavy hitters like Syrah.  On its own, the grape makes plummy, easy-drinking wines with lots of character.

Lucky for us, some ingenious American wine producers have started putting those plummy characteristics into bottles in America, which I’ve been  really enjoying lately.

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Donkey and Goat Winery makes a minimalist Counoise from El Dorado that epitomizes the soft, fruity nature of this grape. Lots of bright raspberry flavors, hints of black pepper, and fine tannins make it perfect with smokey BBQ, cured sausages, and/or a funnel.

In Mendocino, Broc Cellars’ Counoise drinks in a heartier fashion with tons of black plum, cassis, and purple floral tones. I sipped this with roast beef, where it saaaaaang. (and I also loved it with Reese’s peanut butter cups and pumpkin carving).

My advice? Keep your eye out for this obscure, flirtatious little grape and when you find it, buy three.

Counoise Uncorked:

Laura Loves: Donkey and Goat Counoise is ON TAP at St. Anselm, one of my favorite Brooklyn watering holes.

Fun Facts: There were 638 hectares (1,580 acres) of Counoise in France in 2000.

Tablas Creek in Paso Robles, California was the first American winery to plant Counoise in 1990.

Teaser Alert: Counoise + Pringles = Smiles.

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  • October 29, 2014
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