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- LES CHAMPS LIBRES, DARD ET SOUHAUT, Ardèche – Organic
- CHATEAU SAINT-CYRGUES, Costières de Nîmes - Organic
- SOUTHERN RHONE
- CHÂTEAU MOURGUES DU GRES, ANNE FRANCOIS COLLARD, Costières de Nîmes - Organic
- DOMAINE MONTIRIUS, CHRISTINE AND ERIC SAUREL, Vacqueyras – Biodynamic
This is composed of bunches of herbs including thyme, rosemary and oregano. It is a taste archetype of the region and tends to be more
pronounced in wines from very ripe grapes with low acidity and is especially evident in Carignan and Grenache. Old-fashioned wine making
is sympathetic towards bringing out the garrigue character: ageing the wines in old oak foudres results in a kind of positive oxidation that
brings out all the latent aromas of the terroir.” (A Digression Concerning Terroir)
LES CHAMPS LIBRES, DARD ET SOUHAUT, Ardèche – Organic
No lard-di-da numbers these but ‘umble natural wines co-scripted by the René Jean Dard and Hervé Souhaut team. The proof
is in the cheerful drinking. The white Lard is a choice Grenache Blanc whilst the red is a chillable and eminently gluggable
blend of Gamay and Syrah weighing in at a slimming 11.8%. The former is golden-yellow and vinous; fleshy fruits dominate
the nose and mouth, in particular, poached pears and roasted pineapple. The finish is dry, waxy and spicy. The red effortlessly
combines frivolity (imagine just crushed red grape juice) and cheeky terroir notes of black olives and pepper.
strips off and reveals those beautifully eloquent primary Syrah aromas: sweet violets, orange blossom, juicy black olives and
silky blueberry fruit mingled in the glass. In terms of drinkability let’s just say that the gradient of the glass projecting the wine
down one’s throat steepens appreciably.
LARD DES CHOIX BLANC
LARD DES CHOIX ROUGE
LES VIGNERONS D’ESTEZARGUES, Côtes du Rhône
This chirpy convivial red comes from the pebble (galets) strewn clay terraces of the Gard between Avignon and Nîmes.
This super little co-op works according to the principles of Terra Vitis using no chemical treatments other than a little
sulphur. The grape blend varies, but usually features Grenache (roughly 50%) with Syrah and Carignan in equal
measure. Very much a natural wine with no filtering or fining. Bottled in spring after the finish the wine is very juicy
with a soft, slightly cloudy purple colour and gentle flavours of blackberry, liquorice, pepper and nutmeg.
VIN DE PAYS DU GARD “LES GALETS”
VIN DE PAYS DU GARD “LES GALETS” – 5 litre BIB
COTES DU RHONE « MISTRAL »
COTES DU RHONE « MISTRAL » - ½ bottle
VIN DE FRANCE ROUGE – Keykeg – 20 litre
Costières de Nîmes is an appellation in transition. It received full AC status in 1986 and although notionally in the
eastern part of the Languedoc, it shares the same topography, soil and climate as the southern Rhône (alluvial terroir
of galet stones and sandstone). Château Saint-Cyrgues is beginning to produce quality wines across the board. In the
vineyard natural remedies are encouraged and work is done by hand. The murrey-hued violet-scented Saint-Cirice
Rouge is for those who enjoy gutsy spicy wines – fabulous concentration for a wine at this level. This blend of
Grenache and Syrah pleads for barbecued leg of lamb. The Costières de Nîmes Blanc is a mini-Châteauneuf, being a
blend of Roussanne (75%) and Grenache Blanc (25%). Flavours here of ripe apricots, pulped pears, green herbs and
lime leaves and the characteristic southern Rhône “oily” mouth-feel. Try this with fruits de mer, grilled lemon sole and
even young Roquefort.
CHATEAU SAINT-CYRGUES, COSTIERES DE NIMES BLANC
SAINT-CIRICE SYRAH-GRENACHE, VIN DE PAYS DU GARD
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“I don’t like the word winemaker. It doesn’t mean anything to me. You make shoes; you don’t make wine. I
prefer to call myself a “wine helper” You help the wine make itself. That’s how I consider my job. That’s the
way to keep a low profile – under nature, under the climate, under the fruit. Wine is a great gift.”
Louis Barruol, quoted in The New France – Andrew Jefford
Mourgues was originally a Provençal name for Ursuline nuns, the farm originally having belonged to a convent near the
village of Beaucaire. With Mont Ventoux visible from the top of the vineyard slopes this is a region that feels closer to
Provence or the Rhône than the Languedoc.
We are delighted to be able to distribute this eye-opening, gob-enlightening range of Rhône-ettes.
When much generic Côtes-du-Rhône is so pallid that it won’t even leave a stain in your carpet any more, these Syrah-
drenched wines will roll back the rug and form an enticing purple lagoon. The vineyard site is made up of flat pebbles called
Grès and is planted with a mixture of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc. Les Galets
refer to the large stones (also found in Châteauneuf) which heat up during the day and release their warmth at night, perfect
for ripening those reds. The baby white, Galets Dorés, is Grenache Blanc with Roussanne and Vermentino, expressing white
flowers and ripe citrus fruits. The Galets Rouge is predominantly Syrah with Grenache, a touch of Carignan and Mourvèdre.
Notes of violets and bubbling with aromatic red fruits. The Syrah vines are more than forty years old; advantageous in hot
years such as 2003 and 2005 when the well-established root systems could probe the clay calcareous marl in search of
moisture. The saignée rosé punches well above its weight and even the whites, so often a flabby irrelevance in southern
France, are taut in structure and rich in fruit, especially the Terre d’Argence (from the older vines on the Costières) which
displays a positively indecent amount of flavour, a pornucopia of supple melons, sweet apricots and other explicit fruits as
well as glorious honeyed tones – Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache voluptuously combine. The Terre d’Argence Rouge,
from those old exposed Syrah vines, is a wine of profound concentration and equal elegance, displaying strong flavours of
blackberries, dried black olives and oriental spices. The motto of the estate, taken from an old sundial outside the house, is
sine sole nihil (nothing without sun). The sun is in these wines.
COSTIERES DE NIMES BLANC, GALETS DORES
COSTIERES DE NIMES BLANC « TERRES ‘ARGENCE »
COSTIERES DE NIMES ROUGE, LES GALETS
COSTIERES DE NIMES ROUGE, TERRE D’ARGENCE
COSTIERES DE NIMES ROSE, LES GALETS
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Legs (Tears, Arches) – having swirled your glass observe how the liquid clinging to the sides after the wine has settled. This viscosity
may be due to the extract, the level of alcohol or the sugar content of the wine, or a combination of these factors. May be described as vast
and trunkless if you are in poetic mood, or like Betty Grable’s for those with black-and-white memories. Legs have replaced tears and
arches appear to have fallen out of favour. All arches, by the way, must be gothic.
DOMAINE GRAMENON, MICHELE AUBERY-LAURENT, Côtes-du-Rhône – Biodynamic
Nunquam aliud natura, aliud sapentia dicit
(For wisdom ever echoes Nature’s voice – Juvenal trans. Samuel Johnson)
These are wines that we have long admired deeply for their purity.
Located not far from the village of Vinsobres Michèle Laurent makes some of the most beautiful and compelling Rhône wines.
Made with gloriously ripe fruit and bottled by hand without fining or filtration, many of the cuvées are also bottled without
the addition of any sulphur in order to keep the yeasts and microflora alive. This is non-interventionist, minimalist wine-
making par excellence. Not only are the vines old (there is one parcel of 100-year-old Grenache, but the traditional cellars
contain no high-tech equipment with the wine descending by means of gravity to the tanks (to use a pump apparently
“stresses the yeasts”) and the ageing of all the cuvées of red wines is in old cask and demi-muids. We begin with the white
wine called “Vie On Y Est”. An initial impression would suggest that this is a powerful, alcoholic, oily Viognier, neither
particularly aromatic nor mineral. A second glass reveals a softening of the edges; the power is there, but warm fruit begins
to emerge. As the wine reaches room temperature the transformation is astonishing; the alcohol is converted into luscious
pollen-dusted fruit, scents of warm brioche and yoghurt appear. Poignée des Raisins is a glorious carbo-style “fistful of
grapes”. Juicy, pure, vibrant fruit aromas of black fruit compote…blackberry, black plum and black cherry fruits virtually
burst out of the glass with dashes of higher toned blue-fruits sitting in the background. There are hints of earth/stone, dried
flowers, jasmine, pepper, spice box, red licorice, ginger cake and a touch of green tobacco leaf
Zazous is another springy/summer red, packed with summer fruit flavours.
Sierra du Sud, named after the ancient Syrah clone, is indeed 100% pure Syrah. Amidst the power is delightful delicacy:
cassis mingled with tapenade, Provençal herbs, minerals and flowers.
La Sagesse is a blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Syrah,
an expansive, intensely fragrant Côtes-du-Rhône with a chewy texture and a medicinal flavour. Ceps Centenaire is a real
rarity from the oldest vines. It is a huge, sumptuous mouthful, bursting with bright kirsch-laden fruit. To taste Vins du Raisin,
wines of natural grace, perfume and subtle depth, you have to look into yourself as well as into the glass. These are living,
mutable wines constantly confounding expectation; sometimes shy, austere, fugitive, sometimes lush, floral and bold.
COTES-DU-RHONE “VIE ON Y EST”
COTES-DU-RHONE “POIGNEE DE RAISINS”
COTES-DU-RHONE « ON EST ZAZOUS »
COTES-DU-RHONE “SIERRA DU SUD”
COTES-DU-RHONE “LA SAGESSE”
COTES-DU-RHONE « LA SAGESSE » magnum
COTES-DU-RHONE “LA MEME” CEPS CENTENAIRE
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DOMAINE DE CHAPOTON, SERGE & ANNIKA REMUSAN, Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Rochegude
Rochegude is situated between Avignon and Montelimar and its notoriety stems from the period when the Marquis d’Aqueria,
owner of the Rochegude castle, exported wines from the village to the United States to one Thomas Jefferson no less. The
Remusans are enthusiastic artisans of the soil, harvesting and sorting by hand and vinifying the grape clusters intact
according to the traditional method. Syrah dominates these lively, brilliant Côtes-du-Rhônes, although there are varying
quantities of Grenache and Mourvèdre also. Aromas of violets and soft black fruits dominate and silky ripe tannins lubricate
the transition in the mouth. Low yields (less than 40 hl/ha) give the wines their sturdy yet elegant structure.
COTES-DU-RHONE – ½ bottle
COTES-DU-RHONE - magnum
DOMAINE LA FERME SAINT-MARTIN, GUY JULLIEN, Beaumes-de-Venise – Organic
Domaine Ferme Saint-Martin is situated in Suzette in the upper part of the Beaumes-de-Venise. The vineyard work is free of
chemicals and the estate has organic certification. Their philosophy is encapsulated thus :
“Cela veut dire que nous labourons nos vignes bien sûr, et que nous n’utilisons pas de produits de traitements issus de
synthèse. Mais surtout, que tous les travaux que nous réalisons à la vigne et sur le domaine, sont faits dans le but de
produire des raisins sains, tout en gardant une vie dans les sols et un équilibre dans la nature qui nous molécule entoure.
Le travail du sol et l’absence de produits de synthèses permettent donc le maintien d’une faune et d’une flore diversifiées
autour de la vigne.
All wines are fermented with natural yeasts. The Terres Jaunes is from vines grown on the Triassic limestone that
dominates the terroir of Beaumes-de-Venise. The yields are a moderate 35-38 hl/ha of Grenache (75%) and Syrah (25%).
After a tri de vendange, and total destemming there is a 15-20-day maceration. After a short period in vat, the wine is
bottled unfiltered with a very small dose of sulphur. It has an intense ruby colour and powerful garrigue-scented nose of
pepper and spice and typically mouth-filling flavours. The Côtes du Ventoux vineyards are situated on gravel soils in St
Hyppolyte le Graveyron. The south-facing vines are 20-45 years old. La Gérine (Grenache/Carignan blend) undergoes a
semi-carbonic maceration without sulphur and using indigenous yeasts. The grapes are lightly trodden by foot and, after
vinification, the wine is bottled without filtration and with a very light dose of sulphur. An elegant racy wine that reveals
lovely purity with dark berry fruits on the nose and aromas of wild bay-leaf and roasted herb to give the palate an extra
dimension. The baby Côtes-du-Rhône, Les Romanins, is produced in the commune of Suzette from parcels of vines not
classified as Beaumes de Venise and from young vines just entering production. The yields are still relatively low (45 hl/ha).
A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Cinsault, this is a wine very much on the fruit with soft confit fruits and a gentle dusting
VENTOUX “LA GERINE”
BEAUMES-DE-VENISE “TERRES JAUNES”
DOMAINE DIDIER CHARAVIN, Rasteau
A delicious wine with an expansive nose of roasted currants, warm meat and fresh coffee beans with a good slew of
spice and mineral. Develops in the glass to reveal fruits macerated in port, the mouth is enhanced and filled with
flavours of plums and tobacco, the tannins are round and the whole experience is completed by a waft of secondary
gamey aromas. This is a Rhône with great life expectancy and requiring a sturdy diet of wild hare, meat casserole or
lamb stuffed with garrigue herbs. Amazingly impressive, thoroughly justifying the rather expensive price tag, wines
that would hold their own (Rhône?) with many a top Châteauneuf.
DOMAINE LA GARRIGUE, PIERRE-ALBERT BERNARD, Vacqueyras
This typically Provençal 65-hectare estate has been in the same family since 1850. Grenache (from 50-year-old +
vines) forms 75% of the blend (the remainder shared between Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault); the upbringing is
traditional (24 months in cement vat, without filtration). As you can imagine this is “take-no-prisoners” southern
Rhône. Impressions of undergrowth, musk and leather are evocative of the garrigue from which the vineyard derives
its name. The strong, rich flavour is finely structured, the tannins are powerful yet well integrated, the fruit is
brandied cherries and a firm rasp of pepper seasons the palate. A winter wine for roast partridge with cabbage or
duck with olives.
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DOMAINE DE LA CHARITE, CHRISTOPHE COSTE, Côtes du Rhône - Organic
Christophe Coste must be the most dynamic winemaker in the newly elevated Côtes du Rhône Village of Signargues.
Apart from being president of the syndicate there, he makes a range of stunningly good wines. In just ten years,
Christophe has expanded the vineyard including a holding in Chateauneuf, the range has developed and includes
several excellent boutique wines and everything is now recognised as fully organic.
west of Avignon. It was founded by Christophe's grandfather in 1970 at which time there were just 5 hectares (ha)
producing grapes which were sold to the local cooperative. In 1974, Christophe's father left the cooperative and built
the cellars. Now, under Christophe's management, the estate has expanded to 45 ha of vines and some more with olive
trees. The rosé is a blend of Syrah (80%) and Cinsault (20%) and is appropriately crunchy.
COTES DU RHONE ROSE LA TRILOGIE – 5 litre BIB
DOMAINE MONTIRIUS, CHRISTINE AND ERIC SAUREL, Vacqueyras – Biodynamic
Montirius is owned by the Saurel family, with son Eric in control of wine-making and day-to-day operations. Eric is a
trained oenologist and also consults for any successful estates in the southern Rhône. Montirius is based on the north-
eastern edge of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, in Vacqueyras and Gigondas. Clos Montirius is a piece of land
that rises above the Comtat plain. It enjoys a particular microclimate with less rainfall than other areas, a sweet lieu-dit
in the vineyard of some eight hectares of Syrah and Grenache vines. The soil is composed of alluvial residues: the classic
Galet pebbles on top of sand and yellow sandstone and pockets of blue Marne clay from the Pliocene period. The
garrigue soil is known as zone brune; it lies on top of Marnes argileuses bleues du Pliocène (zone grise bleutée).
The Clos Montirius from low yielding vines (35 hl/ha) is a 50:50 blend of Grenache and Syrah.
The entire estate is run under full biodynamic principles. Preparations stemming from vegetable, animal and mineral
materials are made and their applications are at the precise moments in the cycles of the year with regard to a lunar and
global calendar (the Marie Thun calendar). The grapes are selected by hand and tasted for ripeness. The aim is to create
a wine with finesse and suppleness.
All the grapes are destemmed in the modern winery. After a cool maceration and during fermentation the remontage
(pumping over) begins at the same as a gentle aeration. This helps to stabilise the colour and anthocyanins as well as
eliminating odours of reduction. The wine then remains for two years in tank in order to have a natural period of
stabilisation before bottling.
Dense ruby/purple-coloured, with medium body, solid tannin, and serious concentration the Montirius possesses copious
amounts of sweet kirsch and black currant fruit intermixed with notes of liquorice as well as leather. Even in this light
vintage it will age well for another ten years and combine happily with a rustic pappardelle with hare or a good
The wines of the Rhône, as one winemaker put it, “express more tenderness than any others in the world.” What is more,
their gentle approachability and spirit recalls the sunny, multifaceted landscape from which they come.
VACQUEYRAS “CLOS MONTIRIUS”
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