Best red Rhone-style wines for the holidays in 2023

Sunday, December 17th, 2023

best Rhone-style wines for 2023 holidays

–Of all the wines we are recommending in this series, the Rhone-style red wines are some of the best suited to holiday meals. They are often smoother and more balanced in character, which makes them fantastic for a big holiday meal with all the fixings.

San Luis Obispo winemakers have been producing some of the best award-winning Rhone-style wines outside of France. This is our favorite category to taste, and they are all gems. So with that bias, here are our recommendations for local red Rhone-style wines.

Top local Rhone-style red wine recommendations

Al Lago 2019 Aria – $65
This syrah blend has a deep ruby-purple. It opens with streaks of flint that give way to a savory core of red cherry, fernet, leather, and desiccated flowers as it shifts and opens to finer, earthy nuances. It earned 96 points from Wine Advocate.

Austin Hope 2021 Estate Grenache – $75
Best Rhone-style wine for 2023 holidaysOn the nose, fruit flavors of cherries, raspberries, and dried blueberries delight. On the palate the mood deepens with dark fruit flavors and more intense savory spices evolve with cardamom, black pepper, and a touch of cinnamon. The wine finishes, fully coasting your pallet with refined velvety tannins that linger.

Austin Hope 2021 Estate GSM – $75
This wine possesses aromas of fresh blackberry, black currants, and violets. On the palate, this full-bodied wine is layered with dark fruit, dried violets, and savory undertones. The finish is long and integrated with weighted tannins.

Austin Hope 2021 Appellation Series Syrah and Grenache – $60
The mouthfeel is rich yet vibrant, reflecting both the darkness of Syrah and the lightness of Grenache.

Barr Estate 2019 Mourvedre – $28
The aromas have earthy notes with soft fruit flavors of red berries, plums, and blueberries. Pairs well with roasted duck, lamb, beef, and spicy sauces.

Barton 2021 California Love Grenache & Counoise – $65
The grenache adds layers of texture and depth to complement the high-toned red fruit character of counoise. Hues of light garnet, and notes of freshly picked red plum, red raspberry, wild strawberry, and cinnamon stick on the nose. Dried hay and notes of fennel and sage on the palate. Best enjoyed with a herb roasted chicken.

Booker 2021 PERL Rhone-Style Blend – $75
This wine is a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache. It offers aromas of cured meat, black olive, black pepper, and clove with undertones of violets and raspberry coulis. Full, round, mouth-coating lushness is framed by assertive gravelly tannins, all unfolding into a long, lingering finish.

Brecon Estate 2021 Feral Underclass Reserve – $88
This is a wine of lush dark fruit with layers of peppery spice, fermented with wild feral yeast.

Calipaso 2020 Reserve Blend – $75
best Rhone-style wine for 2023 holidaysThis wine opens with a compelling nose of dark berries, smokey spice, and hints of cassis. On the palate, it reveals a robust interplay of blackberry and blackcurrant flavors from the syrah and cabernet sauvignon, underscored by a peppery spice and a hint of smokiness. It’s tannins are firm yet well-integrated, leading to a long finish. Pairs well with beef, lamb, and mushroom risotto. It was one of our favorites.

Cuatro Dias 2021 Civil Servant GSM – $40
A classic Rhone-style blend of grenache, syrah, and morvedre. On the nose there are aromas of raspberry and rosemary. Dry blackberry, wet brick, and balanced acids on the palate.

Derby Wine Estates 2017 Derbyshire Syrah – $46
This wine is light-bodied and purple, with a bouquet of black pepper, green cardamom, and dried kelp. Flavors of strawberry and bing cherry are supported by soft tannins and supple acidity.

Derby Wine Estates 2018 Fifteen 10 Red – $34
A delightful blend of grenache, syrah, mourvedre, and Cinsault. This wine is medium-bodied with aromas of ripe plums, bing cherries, chocolate, and tea leaves that lead to a structure of chalky tannins and linear acidity.

Dubost 2019 Jacob’s Ladder – $75
This delicious syrah blend is medium purple in color. Green peppercorn, dusty, chocolate, black cherry, dried vanilla, graphite, tea on the nose. Dry medium bodied with a long finish.

Eberle 2021 Syrah – $40
best Rhone-style wine for 2023 holidaysBlueberry, blackberry, red raspberry, plum, and generous amounts of French, American, and Hungarian oak. White pepper, savory, earthy, sweet tobacco, and violets. Balanced with a mouth-coating grip, medium tannins, and fruit. Pairs well with braised beef, duck with plum sauce, and grilled pork ribs.

Eberle 2021 Cotes-Du-Robles – $38
This wine has juicy acidity with soft tannins. Notes of raspberry, fresh strawberry, rose petal, milk chocolate, blood orange, biscuit, and sage coat the palate upon first sip. This pairs well with smoked duck, cassoulet, beets, and carrots. It was one of our favorites.

End of the Day Wines 2021 Cuvee – $30
Fragrance of red cherry and anise. Cherry and cranberry on the palate, accompanied by a subtle infusion of spices. Pairs well with glazed ham, pork tenderloin, or turkey dinner. This GSM earned a double gold medal at the Orange County Wine Society Wine Competition.

Ecluse 2021 Rendition – $54
A GSM blend with a touch of petite sverdot. Nose of dark fruit, star anise, smoked meat, blueberries, and a hint of violets. This wine has complex flavors of dark fruit and olallieberry pie that blends with savory notes and an earthy mid-palate. Well-rounded with a spicy finish.

Graveyard Vineyards 2020 Estate Syrah – $40
You’ll find aromas of violets, blueberries, and cigar box. With medium earthiness and rich fruitiness, this wine is full bodied and balanced with flavors of elderberries, mocha, blackberries, hints of pie spices, graceful tannins, and a velvety finish.

Graveyard Vineyards 2020 Quatre Cuvee – $54
A smoky scent mixed with the brightness of dark berries and vanilla. The taste is elegant with big flavors upfront and a beautiful balance of floral, fruit, and spice from start to finish. Balanced acidity, focused finish. Pairs with rib eye, béarnaise sauce, and chicken parmesan.

Halter Ranch 2020 CDP – $55
This grenache-based blend has aromas of raspberry, ripe plum, and a touch of herbes de provence. The entry is bright and fresh, driven by red and blue fruits. The mid palate is rich and layered with flavors of bing cherry, olallieberry, and pomegranate. The wine finishes with a soft tannin structure. Pair with pork chops, lamb, sausage, or meat-based pastas.

Halter Ranch 2020 Syrah – $55
This wine showcases aromas of blackberry, chocolate, allspice, and a hint of caramel. The entry is soft, rich, supple, layered with flavors of blueberry, raspberry, and baking spices. The midpalate is generous and lush, segueing into a finish low in tannin structure. Pair with asian spices, duck, wild game, and barbecue.

Hard Working Wines 2022 Right Hand Man Syrah – $25 
Notes of Peach-blueberry cobbler, bouquet garni, rib roast pan drippings, easter lily, and tamari. Palate is luxurious, broad, with a savory, yet juicy finish.

Linne Calodo 2020 Slacker Computer Geek Rhone-Style Blend – $42
A blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 10% Graciano and 10% Carignan. Aromas of strawberry, raspberry, cardamom and wet loam anticipate flavors of black plum, blackberry and mocha. The palate is flush, focused and spicy with energetic textures. Whole-cluster notes of peppercorn and clove linger on a deep, integrated finish.

Midnight Cellars 2019 Grenache ‘Moonbeam’ – $52
best Rhone-style wine for 2023 holidaysThe color is a beautiful crimson red and the nose is full of red fruit, spice, and minerals. The mouthfeel is medium-full with flavors of strawberry and minerals that are accented by chalky tannins and decent acidity. Drink now through 2024. It was one of our favorites!

Midnight Cellars 2020 Syrah ‘Nocturne’ – $52
This wine is purple with hints of magenta. Blackberry, plum, olive and clove aromas mingle together with a petricore-like minerality on the nose. Warm vanilla undertones on the palate are followed by layers of chocolate and black pepper. Ideal for summertime pairing with braised beef.

ONX 2019 Noble Intrigue Syrah – $70
This bold red has vivid expressions of fruit and a general openness from and extended barrel time of 26 total months.

Oso Libre 2019 Carnal – $65
The Rhone-style blend has aromas and flavors of cocoa, coffee, dark roasted malt, red cherry, and dill with an oily, crisp, dry full body. Medium finish with notes of dark berry compote, caraway, fruit leather, and pink pepper with well-integrated tannins.

Red Door Ranch 2022 Latchkey Kid Counoise – $42
This refreshing wine offers aromas of raspberry and leafy herbs. The palate is very juicy and lively, with plum, a touch of earthiness and vibrant acids. It was one of our favorites.

Sea Shell Cellars 2019 Reserve Syrah – $49
The nose captures you with scents of smoked brisket, oaky barbecue chips, cracked pepper, and light hints of sweet blackberries. The palate is bold and present with plenty of weight, supporting acid, lingering tannins, and savory bacon fat.

Sea Shell Cellars 2021 Mourvedre – $59
This wine is medium bodied with a reasonably quick finish, enough acid on the edges to catch and push the wine across the palate into a mouth watering finish. It has aromas and flavors of bright fruits like citrusy-dragon fruit, raspberry and plum. Oak character is milk chocolate like fresh brownies. Dusty tannins subtle, with pleasant finish.

Seven Angels Cellars 2019 Chosen One – $42
A delicious Rhone-style blend with bright cherry and anise with a hint of leather on the nose. Vanilla, creme brulee, and deep red plum on the palate. A slightly acidic finish.

Seven Angels Cellars 2019 Syrah – $42
The color of this wine is a deep ruby hue. On the nose are ripe blackberry and blueberry. Flavors of chocolate, and vanilla with a luscious spicy finish.

Sextant 2019 Passage GSM Blend – $48
Excellent structure, depth, and body. This wine is clean and crafted using new world methods. Plum, blueberry, fresh honey, and caramel notes combine with blackberry, Luxardo cherry and vanilla. A juicy mid-palate leads to a smooth tannin structure nicely balanced by bright acidity.

SummerWood 2019 GSM – $55
best Rhone-style wine for 2023 holidaysThis wine is filled with aromas of plums, black currant, and orange rind. The French oak influence is apparent with smokey oak and vanilla. Pronounced flavors of blackberries, licorice, and blueberries mingle together and deliver a long finish with great acidity.

SummerWood 2019 Mourvedre – $55
This dark garnet-hued wine boasts a lively display of cherries and plums on the nose, accompanied by blueberries, spice and toasty oak on the palate. This well-structured wine has medium tannins and a long finish.

Timshel 2016 Syrah – $46
This wine has bold cigar box flavor with a smooth blackberry tart finish. It pairs well with prime rib and ribeye.

Timshel 2020 Grenache – $46
This wine is delicate and spicy. Notes of pepper, cedar. It was one of our favorites!

Tobin James 2018 GSM – $58
This blend originates from the Cotes du Rhone region of France. It is grenache dominant, giving the base a medium-ruby color, and the body is emboldened by syrah. The 48% grenache, 38% syrah, and 14% mourvedre harmonize to create a perfect balance. The grenache produces strawberry, pomegranate, and cherry flavors, while the syrah offers blackberry, acai, and fig. The mourvedre adds notes of earth tones, smoked meats, and slight tannins. Pairs well with lamb, porterhouse, earthy mushrooms, and aged hard cheddar.

More local wine recommendations



Publisher’s note: For the 10th year in a row we thought it would be fun to recommend local wines for the holidays. Once again, we received an amazing amount of participation from our local wineries. Over the last two weeks, we received more than 150 entries. Fortunately, there were many solid, well-made wines to recommend. We have created several lists of top local wines into categories. The recommended wines above are in alphabetical order.

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