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Balanced bruisers

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Côtes du Rhône 2011, Domaine de Fontbonau ($37.00, 12280134)
Longtime friends Frédéric Engerer (president of Château Latour) and Jérôme Malet (owner of Domaine Sarda-Malet) joined forces in 2008 to acquire the Fontbonau estate, which is located about 15 km northwest of Nyons. The third vintage of this wine is an 80-20 blend of Grenache and Syrah from organically farmed 70- and 30-year-old vines respectively. Vinified on a parcel-by-parcel basis. After manual harvesting and sorting, the grapes are destemmed, cold-macerated and fermented with alternating pump-overs and manual punch-downs. The wine is transferred by gravity to a mix of new (10%) and old barrels and a few 600-litre demi-muids for 12 months’ maturation. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. 15% ABV per SAQ.com, 15.5% per the label. Quebec agent: SAQ.
Pleasing, warming nose: plum, sweet spice, whiffs of garrigue, a peppery note and a hint of leather. Rich but not heavy, extracted but not a bomb. Possessed of round tannins, fresh acidity and a certain dark-minerally depth. The long, spicy finish is marked by a fine astringency and vaporous alcohol. A surprisingly well-balanced bruiser that punches above its AOC weight. (Buy again? Not my style but those who appreciate heady Rhône reds needn’t hesitate.)

Opened at a BYOB (so no notes taken), the Côtes du Rhône Villages – Cairanne 2010, L’Ebrescade, Domaine Richaud ($50.00, 12205097) is a 40-30-30 Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blend of organically farmed grapes grown on vines between 20 and 50 years old that’s fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in used barrels and bottled unfiltered and unfined with little or no added sulphur. The estate is represented in Quebec by Rézin. It had an entrancing bouquet of plum, fig, black cherry, fired minerals and violet. In the mouth, it proved a big wine with dense fruit, vigorous if fine-grained tannins, sturdy acidity and a long, heady finish. A monolith, it needs another five years or so to open up, though like the Fontbonau, it will always be a warmer (15% ABV), never a refresher. (Buy again? Not my style but those who appreciate heady Rhône reds needn’t hesitate.)

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Written by carswell

September 12, 2014 at 14:35

Posted in Tasting notes

Tagged with ,

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