Two wines. Two countries. Two different "Worlds."
I’ve wanted to do a comparison between this duo of wines for ages and I finally got around to it a few weeks ago.
When the South African wine called Goats do Roam came on the market several years back, I chuckled at the clever play on words that its name implied. Côtes du Rhône (which in English means something akin to the hills of the Rhône) is a wine-growing region in France, and the primary varietal in Côtes du Rhône wines is Grenache.
Because of the similarity in the sound of the wine names — I wasn’t sure if the New World one, the Goats do Roam — was trying to suggest it was like a Côtes du Rhône, and I was eager to see how they stacked up against each other. So I decided to try a Côtes du Rhône with a price that was similar to the Goats do Roam for my taste test. I settled on the Brunel de la Gardine Côtes du Rhône, which is a blend of 65 per cent Grenache, 20 per cent Mourvedre and 15 per cent Syrah. Both wines were the same vintage — 2014.
I had this wine before and thought it was pretty darned impressive for the price. It’s regularly $15.52 a bottle, but is on sale for $13.92 at Liquor Marts until Sunday. An easy-to-drink Old World wine, the Brunel de la Gardine is pleasantly juicy and pairs well with grilled beef and — here’s something I don’t usually pay enough attention to — vegetables (hence vegetarian dishes as well).
Goats do Roam has also been a visitor to my home on more than one occasion — it’s $13.99 a bottle and is a blend of many of the same grapes as the Brunel de la Gardine Côtes du Rhône with a few others thrown in for good measure. The Goats do Roam is composed of 60 per cent Shiraz, 14 per cent Grenache, 11 per cent Mourvedre, 11 per cent Petite Sirah, two per cent Carignan and two per cent Cincaut. And as an extra bonus, all grapes used in the wine are 100 per cent Fair Trade Certified.
With aromas of plums and red berries, aromas of cinnamon and clove, and a hint of vanilla oak on the finish, the Goats do Roam is medium-bodied (so is the Côtes du Rhône) and similarly juicy.
In order to make the taste test more interesting, I asked my husband, as I often do, to take part in it with me. He did. And our results were the same. As much as the Goats do Roam has a legion of fans — and by all means, people should drink what they enjoy — we found that while we liked it, it seemed a bit rougher around the edges than the Côtes du Rhône. But that’s nothing a good aerator wouldn’t fix to some degree. And we thought it was a bit gutsier than the Brunel de la Gardine, a quality we both like.
By the same token, though, while neither of us is generally enamoured by Old World wines because of their barnyardy qualities — although I do enjoy a good dose of barnyard in some wines — the Côtes du Rhône had a certain finesse the Goats do Roam seemed to be lacking. Again, aeration would address that problem, unless you happen to like your reds with a bit of a bite, in which case, Goats may be the wine for you.
Whichever you choose — if you already know you like one, it might be worth giving the other one a go just for fun —our results were, essentially, that it was pretty much a toss-up between the two. And like all things wine, it’ll just come down to what matters most, not a recommendation, but personal taste.