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MWG November 13th tasting: Confounding expectations

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I’d normally serve a Côtes du Rhône before a Châteauneuf but Cyril suggested otherwise. He was right to do so.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011, Les Vieilles Vignes, Domaine de Villeneuve ($59.00, 11884913)
A blend of Grenache (70%), Mourvèdre (16%), Syrah (8%), Cinsault (4%) and Clairette (2%) from organically and biodynamically farmed vines up to 90 years old. The varieties are vinified separately. The grapes are manually harvested and gravity fed into the underground winery, where they are left whole, crushed and/or destemmed as the winemaker sees fit and transferred to ceramic-lined concrete vats (80 hl for fermentation, 60 hl for maturation). Maceration and fermentation (with indigenous yeasts) last 20 to 40 days depending on the variety. The cap is punched down and rack-and-return and pump-overs are used when deemed necessary. The must is then pressed with a pneumatic press; the press juice is separately matured and may be added to the free run juice at a later stage. Maturation on the lees lasts 18 to 20 months, with no more than 20% of the wine being matured in a mix of new to third-fill oak barrels. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Scents of raspberry, plum, Asian spice, cedar and graphite waft from the glass. In the mouth, it’s a middleweight with an almost Burgundian texture and fluidity though the savoury flavours – garrigue, black olives, sun-radiated fruit – are clearly Provençal. Bright acidity and lacy tannins add structure and lingering well into the long, perfumed finish. The alcohol is remarkably unapparent. The estate’s website says their goal is to make fine, delicate wines. Well, mission accomplished. This is one of the most civilized Châteauneufs I’ve tasted. Surprisingly accessible now, balanced enough to age for a decade, I’d guess. (Buy again? For a special meal, sure.)

Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Visan 2011, Grains sauvages, Domaine La Fourmente ($38.08, private import, 6 bottles/case)
In 2014, the estate changed its name and is now known as Domaine Dieulefit. This 100% Grenache comes from low-yielding, organically farmed vines between 45 and 70 years old. The grapes are manually harvested, given a long maceration, fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured on the lees, all in lined concrete tanks. No added sulphur. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Reductive nose (Brussels sprouts?!) gives way to dried plum and tamari with earthy dried herb and spice notes. Mouth-filling, dense and velvety. The rich, ripe fruit (red berries, pomegranate) has a peppery kick. Etching acidity and fine tannins provide sufficient structure, while dark minerals emerge on the bitter-edged, faintly flaring finish. A wine with lots of there there. (Buy again? Sure, though not without wishing it were $5 cheaper.)

(Flight: 8/9)

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Written by carswell

December 3, 2014 at 10:56

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