During my last visit to Châteauneuf-du-Pape in November, a vigneron passed along a tip that I should check out what Julien Barrot was doing at Domaine La Barroche. I tasted a number of wines from the 2005 and 2004 vintages while there, and we also took a tour of some of his vineyards. I'd been holding off on writing about the domaine, however, until I could taste the wines blind here in my office.
The domaine is new, and Barrot, at 26, is one of the youngest vignerons in town. Like many of the new domaines in CdP, Barrot's father (who still works in the vineyards today) sold the family grapes off to négociants, before Julien started bottling his own wines in the 2002 vintage. If the family name sounds familiar, it's because Lucien Barrot, who ran a respected eponymous domaine, is Julien's great-uncle.
The domaine consists of just over 29 acres of vines, which average an enviable 60 years of age. In fact, one-third of the domaine's vines are 100-year-old Grenache. Production is increasing here—from 1,250 cases total in the 2003 vintage to 2,500 in 2004.
Julien is energetic and optimistic. He's also mature for a 26 years old; he constantly stresses that he wants 'finesse' in his wines—a theme he's no doubt picked up on by hanging around with the older generation of vignerons in town.
The winery facility itself is very small, with cement tanks built into the ground, and a subterranean barrel room that you climb down a ladder to enter. There are three red cuvées produced here, called Réserve, Fiancée and Pure, all vinified in cement tanks before being moved to a mix of foudres and barrels for aging.
The 2004 Réserve, aged predominantly in foudre, is made in a perfumy, traditional style, with raspberry, incense, mineral and lavender notes running along fine-grained tannins. It's made from a blend of 60 percent Grenache, 20 percent Mourvèdre and the rest is Syrah and Cinsault.
The Fiancée 2004 is equal parts Syrah and Grenache, and aged predominantly in barrel (starting with the '05 vintage, it's aged entirely in barrel). It's juicy, with lots of plum, licorice and mixed berry fruit. It's a forward '04, with notes of sweet spice and cocoa filling out the stylish finish.
As its name suggestions, the top wine, Pure 2004, is made from 100 percent Grenache, the essence of CdP. From sandy soils and old vines, it shows an ample core of black cherry, raspberry and red plum fruit, layered with spice and toast notes, with nice pure fruit and minerality on the finish.
I found all three of the wines to be outstanding after tasting them blind in a recent flight of '04 CdPs (look for official scores to be released soon), and this is a domaine worth watching. The wines aren't inexpensive, in the $40 to $50 range, but they aren't yet in the league with the appellation's heavy hitters, which now check in at $70 and up. If you need help tracking down their wines, check out www.domainelabarroche.com.
Hoyt Hill Jr — Nashville, TN — January 10, 2007 6:14pm ET
James Molesworth — January 11, 2007 11:15am ET
Alan Strauss — Reston, VA — February 8, 2007 10:54pm ET
Lawrence Bracken — June 6, 2007 3:56pm ET
Michael Simons — January 22, 2008 11:13pm ET
James Molesworth — January 24, 2008 9:24am ET
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