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In our Eternal Quest for Great Value we have recently come across four outstanding wines from the Southern Rhône that offer superb currrent drinking - far above thier price points - as well as the ability to cellar nicely for five to ten years.
In Part Two of this email, we offer wines from Vacqueyras and Gigondas that belong in your cellar. Although they are certainly enjoyable now, each one will repay an additional ten to thirty years of aging. Please note that these are the last bottles of the beautiful 2015 Clos du Joncuas Gigondas...
2019 Château de Manissy Côtes du Rhône "Oracle" The very talented Florian André at Château de Manissy makes this delicious Côtes du Rhône from Grenache, Carignan and Counoise grown on sandy, brown clay/limestone soils. Demeter certified Biodynamic. This unique wine, which gets a bit of extra brightness from the Counoise, is one of the greatest values in the store. Last ten cases!
The 2017 Santa Duc CDR Les Vieilles Vignes is from old vines of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Counoise, Cinsault and Carignan in Rasteau, Cairanne, Sablet and Plan de Dieu. The entire staff loved this wine at last week's tasting - buy a few cases for drinking over the next five years!
The 2015 Aphillanthes Plan de Dieu "Vieilles Vignes" is a beautiful bottle of mature Côtes du Rhône, from 50 to 70 year-old vines, 80% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre from clay-limestone, siliceous, garrigue soils at Sérignan (Plan de Dieu). Thank-you Sam, for discovering this superb wine buried in the book of importer Peter Weygandt. (Check out the great review from drinkrhone.com.)
2020 Gour de Chaulé Côtes-du-Rhône Cuvée de la Vigneronne Every year a tiny amount of this rare and delicious CDR arrives in NY and we're very happy to get our hands on some in this excellent vintage, a bit more powerful that 2018 or 2019 but still fresh and balanced. Actually entitled to AOC Vacqueyras, the Bonfils family sells it as Côtes-du-Rhône. The aromas are quite pretty, showing ripe cassis, strawberry and black cherry with hints of violet, spice and garrigue. The palate shows peppery ripe fruit, cassis and strawberry, with earth, spice and citrus. Don't miss it!
Mature bottles from the southern Rhône are one of the great joys of the world of wine. And while Châteauneuf-du-Pape gets most of the attention, a few of our favorite Vacqueyras and Gigondas have recently returned to the shelves and should be considered for your cellar. Le Sang des Cailloux is one of the great estates of the Southern Rhône, organic forever and Biodynamic since 2011. The 2019 Vacqueyras "Cuvée Floureto" is back in stock - it's a soulful and satisfying Rhône red for current consumption or cellaring for 15 to 20 years. The 2015 Cuvée de Lopy, from the estate's oldest vines, has just been re-released. This profound wine, which is just beginning to open up, will drink beautifully until about 2040.
While we loved the very old-fashioned Gigondas made by the Roux brothers at Les Pallières, the new team is now producing beautiful wines worthy of these amazing vineyards that climb the slopes of the Dentelles. The 2019 Les Pallières "Racines" is a superb Gigondas combining complexity elegance and power—drink over the next 30 years.
Speaking of Gigondas and Vacqueyras, our friends Dany and Carole Chastan at Le Clos du Joncuas make some of the finest wines in the region and at prices that remain affordable, especially for such authentic and delicious organic wines. Our last shipment is selling out quickly - we have only 17 btls left of the superb 2015 Gigondas and a few cases of the wonderful 2019.
The best value in today's email, however, may be the 2019 Clos du Joncuas Vacqueyras "La Font de Papier." We've run out of superlatives - read John's review, about 2 cases are left...
Wines are in stock, or in our warehouse, pickup and shipping available by 4/26
The very talented Florian André at Chateau de Manissy makes this delicious Côtes d Rhône from Grenache, Carignan and Counoise in organic/Biodynamic farming on sandy, brown clay/limestone soils. "The wine shows a shiny dark red, purple tints; the bouquet charms thanks to its sunny curve of aroma that mixes dried herbs with blackcurrant fruit, all neatly presented. There’s a little smokiness. The fruit purity stands out on the palate, the blueberry fruit with notes of tar-tannin, licorice accompanying it as it runs with calm continuity. This is bang on the money Côtes red, a pleasure to drink with its keen clarity, the length in shape to allow red meats into the dining equation. The freshness contributed by the Counoise is very helpful." (DrinkRhone) This is a superb everyday red at a crazy price!
The Santa Duc CDR Les Vieilles Vignes is from old vines of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Counoise, Cinsault and Carignan in Rasteau, Cairanne, Sablet and Plan de Dieu, whole bunch fermentation, 3 week vinification, aged in concrete for 12 to 18 months. For a pretty humble seeming wine, this has a ton of character, with floral and brambly blue and red fruit, nutmeg, allspice and lavender notes and an appealing red and black fruit/garrigue character on the palate. A wonderful value and drinking beautifully now!
The Aphillanthes Plan de dieu "Vieilles Vignes" is a beautiful bottle of mature Cotes du Rhone, from 50 to 70 year-old vines, 80% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre from clay-limestone, siliceous, garrigue soils at Sérignan (Plan de Dieu). "This holds a well-set raspberry and plum-fruited nose, soft white pepper present, a subtext of blackberry, mulled mulberry. This attacks on rounded, smoothly textured rolling red fruit with trim herbs around it, detail indicating the age of the vines, an assured and calm depth. This is notably tasty, but long and stylish also; it is silken wine, en finesse and showing good truth. It is well balanced, very long." - drinkrhone
A small amount of Cotes du Rhone is produced from the vineyards owned by Gour de Chaulé in the communes of Vacqueyras and Violes. As with the more noble Gigondas, this cuvée is based almost exclusively on the Grenache grape (approximately 90% of the blend). It is vinified in a fashion similar to the Gigondas except that the elevage is less long. This is to say that there is an extended cuvaison with stems included, malolactic is done in cuve and the wine sees large foudres before being bottled eighteen months after harvest without fining or filtration. The 2020 is a bit more dense and powerful than either 2018 or 2019, but retains good freshness and overall balance. The aromas are quite pretty, showing ripe cassis, strawberry and black cherry with hints of violet, spice and garrigue. The palate shows peppery ripe fruit, cassis, black plum and strawberry, with earth, spice and citrus. This is drinking well now and will be a great accompaniment to pork or lamb chops and anything grilled this summer. Serve a bit cool. Legally entitled to the AOC Vacqueyras, this rare and delicious Cotes-du-Rhone is a superb value!
"One of the top domains in the appellation and of a benchmark for cellar-worthy Vacqueyras. Comprised of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah , 10% Mourvèdre/Cinsault/Carignan from 17 ha of biodynamically farmed plots on the Plateau des Garrigues. Grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed, and fermented in concrete with native yeasts and aged in foudre. An old friend if ever there was one. A bottle of the 1995 Sang Des Cailloux enjoyed in 2010 taught me that one should really cellar at least a few of these every vintage. You expect Châteauneuf from a good producer to be humming along at 15 years of age, but Vacqueyras? But more than humming, that humble bottle sang (pun intended) with juicy black fruit, resolved tannins and a nose full of dried violets and garrigue. It was quite a wine and mustachioed vigneron Serge Férogoule (since retired) was quite a man. That bottle was enough to convince me to tuck away a few bottles of his wines nearly every subsequent vintage. And this is what I am urging you to do, as well. And the Sang des Cailloux 2019 Vacqueyras Cuvée Floureto is a cracking place to start. The robe is an inky purple hue to the rim of the glass. The nose is a bit circumspect upon opening, but a quick decant reveals aromas of crushed violets, wild blackberry, mulberry, and garrigue with hints toasted peppercorn and fennel seed. The palate is concentrated and firm just out of the bottle, but with a bit of coaxing reveals plummy rich black and blue fruit flavors. This shows a concentrated ripeness that nonetheless remains tethered to the deeply-pitched mineral core, ennobled by firm, but sophisticated, tannins and a mineral tang that speaks to the old vines and biodynamic farming. This is certainly young but displays exquisite potential in its “callow” youth. Lovely wine of terroir with oodles of upside. John McIlwain
The 2015 Cuvée de Lopy is from very old vines of Grenache grown in clay-limestone, galet stone soils, with 20% old-vine Syrah. "The 2015 shows a dark red, complete robe. The nose smoulders quietly, has airs of mulberry and raspberry, soft spice, geranium. The palate strikes out well – this holds good, stylish, clear Grenache, plum and ripe raspberry in the flavour, with live, cool tannins which have a very good quality. It flows with stylish richness, is complex, a wine of terroir from deep-rooted vines, those that drank from those low-down soils and their minerals this year. Blueberry, floral and mineral prompts also come through. Drink now, through 2036" - drinkrhone.com. 12 btls only.
The Les Pallieres "Racines" is 80-85% Grenache (average age 70 years), 5-7.5% Syrah & 5-7.5% Cinsault, 5% Clairette blanche from vineyards near the cellars at 250 metres, 80% destemmed, gentle crush, 30-35 day concrete, oak vat vinification, large oak vat aged 10 months, then large 60 hl barrel 7-9 months, unfined, unfiltered, Domaine Les Pallières is undeniably one of the greatest, longest-running properties of the Southern Rhône — outside the village of Gigondas, woven into the foothills of the beautiful and brooding Dentelles de Montmirail. The domaine had been a continuously running farm within the same family since the fifteenth century! From DrinkRhone: "full red robe; there’s real depth on the nose, beef, bulls blood, intense black berry jam, Southern/sudiste tones, black olives. The palate gives a constant surge attack, a very good wheel of rolling black fruits, is well together, ends with a fine note of stylish juice, precision from the tannins there. It’s both elegant and full, well extended, a very good bottle, has a real upholstered finish." Drink this beautiful Gigondas over the next 30 years.
(Tasted January 2023: Beautiful nose, gorgeous fruit, a bit softer and richer than the 2016, great finish, delicious!) 80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, on Triassic clay/limestone soils, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. Although we love this beautifully old-fashioned, organic wine in every vintage, Dany and Carole Chastan have made perhaps their best wine ever in 2015! The wine shows deep aromas of blackberry, dark chocolate, prune, garrigue, musk and citrus, quite focused and elegant. The palate is pure, supple and balanced, even at 15% alcohol, with dense blackberry, tart cherry, red currant, spice, earth and minerals, with tart red fruits, minerals and citrus in the very long finish. This is a superb Gigondas that can be enjoyed immensely now with a steak, pork or lamb chops, Morrocan tagines and full-flavored cheeses. Cellar 10 to 15 years for a mature experience. This is a superb wine and a great value - thanks to Carole and Dany for their great farming and traditional winemaking!
(80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, on Triassic clay/limestone soils, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels.) The 2019 Gigondas from Clos du Joncuas has a very expressive nose. Aromas of ground coffee, black licorice, dark cherry, and amazing, dense smells of ripe violets and roses. The palate follows a vein of crushed graphite, with plump black plums, blackberries, sage, and espresso. Structurally, there are well-set tannins, balanced on the gums and the back of the tongue, and the finish is bright with salinity, plus a long lasting essence of cherry. A concentrated, well-flavored, Southern Rhone that is drinking very well now, but can be can be put flat for a decade or more. After a few hours open, the wine expands, the mouthfeel becomes more gripping and a cool, lapping minerality takes hold. Bold and delicious, a real treat! David Hatzopoulos
(Arrives 10/19) From 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre, grown on gravelly limestone terraces, always farmed organically, whole-cluster fermention and aged in concrete vats. A fabulous wine from the Southern Rhone, the 2019 La Font de Papier Vacqueyras from Clos du Joncuas displays a fine equilibrium between black fruits, tapenade, and a pungent saline soil signature. The robe straddles the border between dark ruby and purple. The nose is a bit backwards on opening, but time in the glass reveals aromas of plum skin, cassis, game, garrigue, and forest floor. The palate is warm, concentrated, and structured with black fruits, olive, and faint licorice flavors giving way to a salty core and ripe, if somewhat tannic frame. This displays good energy and freshness with fine balance and drive. Very good with pan-roasted loin of lamb and white beans, though this isn’t so structured that a grilled tuna steak with tapenade would suffer for the pairing. Delicious, though a couple of years on its side will surely be rewarded. I’ve learned that a few bottles of southern Rhône reds in the wine fridge are an investment in drinking pleasure. John McIlwain