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WINE OF THE WEEK: Château Courac Côtes du Rhône 2016, France

£8.95, The Wine Society

This is one of my house wines, one I turn to when I want the vinous equivalent of a comforting, warm hug. With more Syrah than Grenache in the blend, it's full and generous with a twist of fresh white pepper to season the plush raspberry fruit and deeper tapenade and game notes.

2016 was an exceptional vintage in the southern Rhône, but even in less favourable vintages such as 2013 Joséphine and Frédéric Arnaud make a success of their straight Côtes du Rhône. I sometimes buy their Laudun Côtes du Rhône Villages, too (their 90-hectare estate is in Laudun), or instead, but either way I've never had a less than good wine from them.

The 2016 will happily keep another three or four years in cellar conditions and is a good accompaniment for the likes of lamb shanks, venison, smoked, cured or spicy sausages, duck, pulse or meat casseroles and pies, or hard cheeses. 14%

Château Courac Côtes du Rhône 2016, France

£8.95, The Wine Society; £11.95, Jeroboams


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