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The Domaine des Amphores Condriueu is 100% massale-selection Viognier from 0.5 hectare on poor granite-based soils at 250 metres on La Côte at Chavanay. The 2020 La Côte has a pale yellow gold robe. The nose offers and intriguing mélange of toasted nuts, salted pineapple, chestnut honey and a hint of spice. The palate shades savory with a granitic spine and roasted peach, and green almond flavors on a sleek (for Condrieu) palate. There’s a pleasing phenolic, stony bitterness closing out the finish. This is a less exotic and exuberant expression, but perfect for the table—think skate with brown butter or roasted chicken with fricasséed morels, rather than drunk as an apéro. John McIlwain
(Arrives 9/21) We love Condrieu, but Viognier from other regions can often be cloying and uninteresting. This example from the Grenier family in Chavanay, however, is elegant and outstanding. It comes from Viognier vines just south of the Condrieu AOC, always tended organically, certified since 2002, and Biodynamic since 2016. The nose shows typical aromas of white flowers and tree fruit underscored by a bracing pineniness and toasty notes. The palate is juicy with notes of pear , green melon and bitter rind uplifted by bright acidity and a long, dry finish. An excellent food wine to be paired with white meats and fish, creamy cheese, grilled vegetables and composed salads. Giselle Hamburg
(Arrives Wed 9/21) The beautiful 2021 Barou Saint-Joseph Blanc is 50 % Marsanne, 50% Roussanne grown on decomposed granite soils at the top of the slope in Charnas (Saint-Joseph), overlooking the Rhone. There is a "macération pelliculaire" of 10 to 12 hours followed by fermentation in barrique at low temperature. The wine ages for 9 months in barriques, 10% new. The wine shows a bright golden color and pretty floral aromas with peach, pear, hazelnut and honey. The palate is round and supple but with nice brightness in 2021 with peach, almond and mineral notes and a long ripe smoothly textured finish. Serve with asparagus, seared scallops, trout, white meats and Asian foods.
The 2018 Bonnefond "Les Rochains" is 100% Syrah (oldest 1955) from full south facing 1 hectare on schist, mica schist soils on Les Rochains. the wine shows "dark red. The bouquet is firm, airs of tart, baked bread, red cherry, herbal notes. It will round out and offer potentially large aromas, deep raspberry in the mix. The palate holds well entrenched content, has a beating heart, is solid, grounded with touches of mineral towards the finish. It sustains well, is nourishing, extended, a little scaled. It’s very complete, carries Pinot hints." (drinkrhone.com) Delicious as a young wine, this can be cellared for another 20 years.
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 2016 is another beautiful Gigondas from the Clos du Joncuas, perhaps with less fat and density than the 2015 but quite elegant and more Burgundian in style. The aromas sing of black cherry liqueur, licorice, black olive and garrigue; the palate is dense and focused with blackberry, cherry, black olive, bitter chocolate and earth with nice sappy length with firm acidity. Drinking well now, decant if possible, or hold for five years, then drink until about 2035. David Lillie
70% Grenache with Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre, grown in sandy soils near Gigondas, always farmed organically, hand harvested, whole-cluster wild yeast fermentation, aged in cement vat, un-fined, unfiltered. The 2019 shows a bright garnet/black color with aromas of plum and violet that segue into tart cherry and raspberry. The palate shows nice density of lovely cherry and berry fruits that are bright and lively but nicely ripe and concentrated as well. Serve cool with grilled foods this fall and winter or with a pork stew or Morrocan tagine. Delicious now but will benefit from 3 - 5 years of cellaring.
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
Clos du Joncuas, founded in 1920 by Pierre Auguste Chastan, has always farmed with natural methods and has been officially organic since 1980. Currently run by sisters Dany and Carole Chastan, the estate's Gigondas vines are on slopes below the Dentelles de Montmirail on soils of clay with dolomite and gypsum over the limestone of the Dentelles and average 40 to 90 years old. 80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. The 2020 Gigondas is a bit lighter and brighter than the 2019 at Clos du Joncuas with high-toned black fruit, mineral, spice and licorice aromas. The palate is elegant and fresh showing deep supple black fruits with hints of graphite, garrigue and brown spice. A few days after opening, the wine has deepened impressively with pure blackberry, bitter chocolate and licorice aromas, great density on the palate with black fruit liqueur, red currant, earth and anise. A beautiful wine! Drink this over the next 10 to 15 years, it will give elegant early drinking, served a bit cool. David Lillie
(50% Clairette, with Roussanne and Marsanne, always organically farmed, wild yeast fermentation, aged in enamel vat.) This unique Rhone white shows subtle aromas of dried pear, peach, citrus and stone. The palate is dense and well-structured with flavors of citrus peel, white fruits, stone, hay and almond, a hint of anise. This has nice brightness, is not as heavy as the previous few vintages. This will accompany a bouillabaisse, full-flavored fish dishes, squid, octopus, roast chicken with herbs, full-flavored cheeses and patés. With aeration the wine becomes more aromatic, really lovely! This is a fabulous value and highly recommended...
This is a beautiful Gigondas Rosé from our organic friends at Clos du Joncuas. Pretty bright pink color, aromas of raspberry, tart cherry, blood orange, peach skin and rose. Full palate with creamy red fruits and firm acidity. Long finish with tart cherry, peach, earth and citrusy acids. A bit lighter and better balanced than the 2019 and 2020, and very young - it should open up nicely over the next two years. It's delicious now though, and very food-friendly – serve with grilled fish and white meats, salade nicoise, vegetarian dishes and Provençal foods. A great rosé to enjoy all year-round!