Louis Barruol's Château de St.-Cosme leads the way in Gigondas
Posted: Jul 31, 2017 12:20pm ET
Louis Barruol remains the acknowledged leader of the Gigondas AOC. The vigneron keeps Château de St.-Cosme operating on the highest level, as well as his Northern Rhône–centric négociant lineup.
After Domaine de Cabasse, Nicolas Haeni develops his Malmont project
Posted: Jul 28, 2017 9:20am ET
When I last caught up with Nicolas Haeni in 2008, he was making the wines for Domaine de Cabasse, a quality estate producing wines from the hilltop town of Séguret as well as Gigondas. At the time, Haeni was developing some new vineyards, a small 10-acre hillside parcel on blue marl and limestone, not far from the vines of Domaine de Mourchon. He managed to keep that parcel for himself, dubbing it Malmont (bad mountain).
Bordeaux star Frédéric Engerer's Domaine Fontbonau is a passion project
Posted: Jul 27, 2017 1:20pm ET
When you run Bordeaux first-growth Château Latour, you're a busy person. Throw in additional vineyards there, a domaine in Burgundy and Château-Grillet in the Rhône, and you probably don't have a minute to spare. So far Frédéric Engerer has proven up to task, with his combination of intensity and energy.
But still, everyone needs a little down time. So what did Engerer do? He bought a fixer-upper in the Rhône, of course. Domaine Fontbonau is his personal project.
Domaine de Mourchon's Côtes du Rhône-Villages bottlings overdeliver
Posted: Jul 26, 2017 4:00pm ET
It's always fun to taste the wines from the established estates that set the benchmark for their respective appellations. But the Southern Rhône is a huge wine region, with scads of values from equally hard-working vignerons. Walter McKinley, now 84, continues to run Domaine de Mourchon, the winery he founded in 1998. It's a family affair, with his son-in-law Hugo helping out. Sébastien Magnouac handles the winemaking.
Mounir Saouma's Châteauneuf-du-Pape cuvées are unlike anything else out there
Posted: Jul 25, 2017 1:50pm ET
Mounir Saouma's estate, which now totals 21 acres in Châteauneuf and an additional 22 acres in Côtes du Rhône-Villages, is creating a new paradigm for wine, a statement I don't make lightly. Saouma's techniques are atypical; the results are simply thrilling. The reds here are sublime, offering a purity of fruit I have rarely seen anywhere, while harnessing the power of Châteauneuf into a sublimely elegant expression of Grenache on sandy soils.
Testing the limits of Grenache at Chêne Bleu
Posted: Jul 24, 2017 5:50pm ET
With its vineyards sitting atop a mountain above the Southern Rhône town of Le Crestet and set around a 9th-century priory, Chêne Bleu is fairly unique. I sat down with owner Nicole Sierra-Rolet and winemaker Thomas Oui to taste through some unreleased vintages and talk about where this project is going.
Isabel Ferrando of Domaine St.-Préfert has been a model of quality and consistency
Posted: Jul 21, 2017 10:50am ET
Some domaines make my job easy. Maybe they make a tweak here and there, or pick up a new parcel of vines, but otherwise they stay the course, hitting a high-quality threshold year-in and year-out. When they're run by good people, it's that much easier. Ferrando's Domaine St.-Préfert is one of those.
Henri Bonneau's son Marcel takes the reins in the wake of his father's death
Posted: Jul 20, 2017 12:40pm ET
When family domaines transition, no matter how smoothly planned, there is nonetheless a period of readjustment. When that transition is sudden or forced, either through a sale or unexpected death, it's that much more disruptive. The latest mythic estate to face this transition is Henri Bonneau & Fils, following the legendary vigneron's sudden passing last year.
Château de Beaucastel stars in Famille Perrin's 2016 vintage lineup
Posted: Jul 18, 2017 4:20pm ET
Domaine de Beaurenard's Coulon brothers have reinforcements waiting in the wings
Posted: Jul 17, 2017 2:20pm ET
Among my more regular stop I make when in the Southern Rhône is Domaine de Beaurenard, the dynamic and progressive Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate run by the brothers Frédéric and Daniel Coulon. Here are my notes on the 2016 vintage here.
Pierre Amadieu has vines with a view in Gigondas, and wines to match
Posted: Jul 13, 2017 5:24pm ET
Pierre Amadieu's tasting room sits prominently on the road up into Gigondas. Fitting, since this family-owned estate is synonymous with Gigondas. An Amadieu planted the first few acres of vines around Gigondas in 1929. And in the mid-'50s and early '60s, Pierre's grandfather planted the bulk of the estate, tucked up on terraces against the Dentelles. Here are my notes on the 2016 cuvées here.
Domaine Font de Michelle's Guillaume Gonnet returns to his father's style of elegant, perfumed Châteauneuf-du-Papes
Posted: Jul 12, 2017 3:24pm ET
On my most recent visit to Domaine Font de Michelle, Guillaume Gonnet was just settling in, taking over from his father, Michel, at this domaine in Bedarrides. Gonnet, just 36, is among Châteauneuf-du-Pape's young generation of leading vignerons.
Winemaker Ralph Garcin is in at Château La Nerthe in Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Posted: Jul 11, 2017 2:44pm ET
Ralph Garcin, 42, is the new guy in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The winemaker has taken over at Château La Nerthe at the end of 2015, with 2016 his first full vintage. He's diving in and making some changes at this large and prominent estate. Here are my notes on the exciting young vintage here.
A first look at Julien Barrot's 2016 vintage, and his new cellar
Posted: Jul 10, 2017 5:04pm ET
Julien Barrot is still one of the young guns in town. At 37, he's got another generation of vintages to look forward to. But he's also got enough vintages under his belt to has some perspective now as well - he started in 2002. There's a subtle shift in style here, coinciding with Barrot moving into a brand-new cellar facility in time for the 2015 vintage. Today I got a preview of the exciting 2016s.
This family estate is under new management, and its track record for excellence is in good hands
Posted: Jul 7, 2017 12:10pm ET
The Michel siblings, Claire Fabre, 34, and her brother François Michel, 28, have taken the reins at Le Vieux Donjon from their father, Lucien, who piloted this estate to one of the most consistent track records in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
With their parents officially retired, the kids opened up a new tasting room and winery facility in 2013, on the road to Courthézon, just as you leave Châteauneuf. "So my parents have some quiet now in their home," says François. "But of course, they still keep an eye over our shoulders."
The 2015 vintage here reflects a philosophical shift
Posted: Jul 6, 2017 2:10pm ET
When I arrived here at Domaine de la Vieille Julienne in Châteaeuneuf-du-Pape, Jean-Paul Daumen was excited about his newest vineyard acquisition. But the more immediate excitement here is in the bottle. More specifically, the 2015 vintage. Here are my notes.
This longtime Châteauneuf-du-Pape star is growing
Posted: Jul 5, 2017 3:10pm ET
After a period of being seemingly locked in at Domaine de la Vielle Julienne, Jean-Paul Daumen, one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape's elder statesmen, quietly changed. A lot.
Like his fellow vintners at Domaine Giraud, Daumen works a bit out of the spotlight, but the wines are clearly among the appellation's elite. These are also some of the most ageworthy wines in the AOC, always showing considerably younger than many of their peers when I taste retrospectives of older vintages.