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The Counoise Grape

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About Counoise

(Synonyms: Coneze, Connoges, Connoise, Counèse, Counoïse, Counïso, Counoueiso, Guélnoise, Quenoise, Rivier.)


Map showing the Rhone Valley region of France.

Counoise is a red-wine grape originating in the Rhône Valley region of France, which remains its primary source. But that is as a blending grape: monovarietal bottlings in France are few, but there is a surge of interest in the grape on the west coast, notably in both California and Washington State, and quite a number of good (but pricey and scarce) monovarietal bottlings are coming from there.

Counoise is another of the many grapes traditionally used chiefly or wholly as components of blends, but now attracting some attention as an interesting monovarietal. When made with appropriate care, it makes a light- to medium-bodied wine with moderate alcohol and tannin levels and a flavor usually described as “peppery”, overlain with spice and red-fruit flavors; it is typically a bracingly acidic wine, and so goes well with food. It is not unlike a Beaujolais or Gamay, but somewhat spicier.

Counoise too often fails to get the respect it deserves as a monovarietal. As you will see farther down the page, it is hard to find monovarietal bottlings in the U.S. market (there are quite a few of them, but they are scarce and not inexpensive). That is a great shame, because it can stand tall on its own, and more people need to realize that.

Factoid: Counoise is sometimes confused with the Aubun grape, in good part because it was once common to have the two grown together in "field blends"; but Aubun is considered distinctly lower in quality than Counoise.

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Some Descriptions of Counoise Wines

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Some Counoises to Try

(About this list.)

Well there isn’t one: there are simply no Counoise bottlings (that the wine search engines could find) that are both reasonably priced ($20 or less) and reasonably available. We found only five that are under $20 (a couple of those are actually at $20), but none of those are carried by more than one or two retailers (again, per the search engines, though there are doubtless many smaller shops that don’t list on the engines).

What we think is interesting is the number of offerings in the over-$20 range: fifteen of those (most or all from California and Washington State). So many upscale offerings of a wine with few moderately priced samples suggests that Counoise is suddenly a hot, hot, hot prestige wine. Let’s hope that more reasonably priced examples start coming soon.

We did include a “splurge” wine that is not wildly pricey and has good reviews, so if you can stand to pop a little, you can at least sample a presumably good specimen of the variety.

For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Broc Cellars “Eaglepoint Ranch” Counoise.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Tuesday, 22 December 2020, at 8:44 pm Pacific Time.