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We're happy to offer today the wines of Domaine Alain Voge, an estate that is an important part of the history and evolution of the wines of the northern Rhône. From the age of 17 Alain Voge worked with his father, and always wanted to remain in Cornas, in the vines. He pays tribute to Robert Fraisse in Saint-Péray, whose vines became part of the Voge estate and to Joseph Michel at Cornas, his "spiritual father" who produced the first "cuvées parcellaires" in Cornas. Until the mid-fifties the wines were sold only in barrel, then in 1957-58, Louis Voge and his son Alain began to bottle their own wines, which increased after the death of Louis in 1965. In the 1960s lower vineyard lands were rapidly lost to housing and the Voge family began to renovate the higher parcels such as "Chaillots" and "la Côte," first by hand then with back-hoes and tractors. The estate progressed under Alain with the wines appearing in the finest restaurants of Lyon and Paris, and work continued in the vineyards, especially in the highest parcels such as "Saint-Pierre." In 2004 Albéric Mazoyer became director of the domaine, with Laurent Martin becoming "chef de culture," and they began working with Claude Bourguignon and others in converting the estate to organic and biodynamic techniques. The entire domaine became certified organic in 2016 and uses Biodynamic techniques as well, with Lionel Fraise, nephew of Robert, becoming director of the estate in 2018. The estate continues to evolve, with replanting done by massale selection from the estate's own vines, and use of SO2 has been lowered to between 20 and 45 g/liter for the reds and almost zero for the "Bulles." The wines on offer today showed beautifully at a recent tasting and will please lovers of authentic wines of terroir from the northern Rhône - we hope you will try them! (Note: "Bulles d'Alain" and "Les Vieilles Fontaines" arrive 10/21)
We have always enjoyed tasting the wines of Jean Delorbe of La Ferme des Sept Lunes - an estate that has been producing natural, biodynamic wines in Saint-Joseph since 1997. There is zero or minimal SO2 used in the estate's wines and aging is done in old barrels or vats. The wines show a beautiful combination of ripe, floral fruit and flavors of terroir, unblemished by SO2. La Ferme des Sept Lunes is comprised of a patchwork of vineyards ranging in vine age and composition, all on a bedrock of granite. The terraced Saint-Joseph vineyards below the converted barn-winery are majestic in their biodiversity. Wild flowers and grasses grow in and around the vines, and the occasional iris adds a vibrant pop of color. In Jean’s words, “a vineyard is a big garden” and he is clearly a devoted caretaker with a very green thumb. These are soulful, delicious wines that any lover of the northern Rhône will enjoy! - David Lillie
The delightful Saint-Peray "Bulles d'Alain" Methode Traditionelle Brut Nature is from vines on the lower slope (Grandes Blache) on granite with limestone and on a higher parcel (Perrier) on pure granite soils. All Marsanne, harvested early, aged three years on the lees, very low SO2, 11 mg/L. The 2014 "Bulles" is an elegant pale gold color with aromas of roasted lemon, apricot, fines herbes and marzipan; the palate is beautifully textured with earth and mineral flavors under almond, pear, hay and citrus, really showing the terroir in the long very mineral finish. This is a unique and delicious Champagne alternative, and a versatile food match for a good ceviche, grilled fish and much more. David Lillie
The Voge Saint-Peray "Fleur de Crussol" derives its name from the Massif de Crussol whose limestone scree covers the granite slope above the village of Saint-Peray. This provides the unique minerality of this beautiful 100% Marsanne from 80-year-old vines. The fermentation is with wild yeasts, aging is in 1 to 3 year-old 228 liter barriques, SO2 addition is relatively low. The 2016 is a superb Northern Rhône white showing complex aromas of stone fruits, roast almonds, hay, stone and chamomile, The palate is marked by strong minerality beneath dried pear and apricot with almond and herbal flavors which continue in the long well-structured finish. Drink over the next ten years with white meats, full-flavored fish dishes. Lovely wine! David Lillie
The Voge CDR "Les Peyrouses" is from young vines on "Saint Pierre" in Cornas as well as fruit not in the AOC in the communes of Saint-Peray and Cornas. The 2016 is a true Northern Rhône Syrah showing fairly bright and complex aromas of black raspberry, blackberry, earth and musk. The palate is full and earthy with black fruits and firm citrusy acids - an authentic junior Cornas that will drink well over the next five years. David Lillie
The Voge Cornas "Les Chailles" comes from 40-year-old vines on lower slopes, with sandy limestone scree celled "chailles' over granite. Mostly de-stemmed, fermented with wild yeasts, aged for 18 months in barrique, none new. The 2016 shows a deep red/black color, with floral, animal notes in the aromas of blackberry and black cherry. The palate is earthy with sappy ripe red currant and black fruits with saline minerals beneath, finishing with firm acids and flavors of fruit and soil. A bit softer than the Cuvée Vieilles Vignes, this lovely Cornas will drink well young and over the next ten+ years. David Lillie
This classic Cornas is from vines averaging 60 years old on granite "gores" in the vineyards of "Combe," "Patou," "La Cote," "les Mazards" and "Chaillots." The grapes are partially de-stemmed, fermentation is with wild yeasts, aging is 20 months in barrique 15% new. The aromas are elegant and bright with red currant and black raspberry, earth and stone. The palate is dense with ripe black fruits, licorice and earth, with a beautiful, very long finish of black fruits with intense minerality. "Terroir in the glass here, for lovers of The Real Thing" says Drinkrhone and we couldn't agree more. Drink this superb Cornas over the next 15 to 20 years. David Lillie
The rare and beautiful Cornas "Les Vieilles Fontaines" is from 80 to 90 year-old vines mostly in the lieu-dit of the same name; 30% whole-cluster fermentation, 24 month elevage in barrique, 15-20% new, 25 mg/l total SO2, approximately 300 cs produced. The 2016 shows a lovely deep red/black color with very elegant, deep aromas of blackberry, black raspberry, very floral and lifted by hints of citrus, iodine and black pepper. The palate is round and deep with earthy textured black and blueberry fruit with a bit of oak tannin finishing with earth, cocoa, fruit liqueur and mineral flavors. Wait five years, then enjoy this piece of history until 2045. David Lillie
The delicious 2018 Ferme Sept Lunes Syrah is from high elevation vines, just above the Saint-Joseph appellation on granite soils, with only 10 mg/L of SO2 added before bottling. The Syrah was so dense in 2018 that Jean added 25% Gamay to lighten the wine, creating this extremely pretty and luscious Northern Rhône red. The aromas are cool and bright with ripe blackberry and blueberry, with violet, licorice and mint. The palate is supple and grainy, showing the granite terroir, with lovely cassis and blackberry fruit that lingers in the refreshing finish. Only 10 mg/L of SO2 are added - this is a delicious natural wine that will please a crowd!
At last winter's tasting with Jean Delorbe of La Ferme Sept Lunes we particularly enjoyed this very unusual Saint-Joseph blanc - it's oxidative in a similar fashion to a Jura Savagnin and really quite delicious! 50% Marsanne and 50% Roussanne, aged in two to six year-old barrels with a tiny SO2 addition at blending. The wine shows a slightly cloudy pale gold color, with aromas of ripe pear and apple, brown spice, almond and citrus lifted by a bit of oxidation. The palate is dense and ripe with stone fruit, mineral, roasted lemon and almond flavors backed by very firm acidity and slight oxidation. An intriguing wine that will accompany a mushroom risotto, fish or white meats in sauce, full flavored cheeses. David Lillie
The expressive and gorgeous natural wines of Jean Delorbe are packed with ripe layers of black fruit, none more so than in the Pleine Lune. This cuvée, 100% Syrah sourced from four hillsides in Saint Désirat (on slightly decomposed granite), sees some of the warmest temperatures on the estate. The wine is aged in a combination of neutral demi-muids and old barrels for 12 months, before aging is continued for 3-4 months in tank. Unfined and unfiltered, and without any SO2, Delorbe produces a Saint-Joseph packed with energy. There are notes of fresh blackberries, red currant, plum and sour cherries, with a deep and textured finish. This is Saint-Joseph at its most natural. Bravo to Jean! JDC
Jean Delorbe makes beautiful natural wines in and around Saint-Joseph - The 2016 Chemin Faisant is from massale selection vines planted in 1975 by Jean's father, on decomposed granite soils in the northern sector of Saint-Joseph, above Saint-Desirat. Biodynamic farming, wild yeast fermentation, aging in 4 to 10 year-old 600 liter barrels, zero added sulfur. The wine shows ripe pure fruit liqueur aromas, blackberry and black raspberry, quite elegant with hints of earth, stone and licorice. The palate is deep and supple with black fruits that are cool and lifted by bright acidity with a backing of earthy mineral flavors that carry through on the finish. Northern Rhône Syrah can be quite beautiful when vinified without sulfur dioxide and this a lovely example. Lovers of Gonon Saint-Joseph will appreciate the similar style of this natural wine - drink over the next ten years. Highly recommended. David Lillie