Today's Côtes du Rhône is no longer a middle-of-the-road red, writes Eric Asimov in the New York Times. France's wine industry is changing, and the region that once churned out bottles that were "light and fruity if you were lucky, more likely tart and harsh," has grown up. But the best still display "characteristic Rhône touches of earthiness and minerality."
American wine buyers have plenty of affordable Côtes du Rhône to choose from—some winners cost less than $15. But as the science of wine-making advances, polish can overshadow character. The challenge becomes finding a producer with "wisdom, experience and an intuitive sense of how to lift a wine up without unmooring it from its origins."