Tasting No. 211 – June 24, 2019-Rhone Wines

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to assess and compare wines from three different regions of the Rhone Valley.

The Rhone region  (see map) is located in the southeast of France on the river of the same name that runs from north to south from the Swiss Alps to Marseille (500 miles) and is mainly dedicated to the production of red wines (95%).  These are characterized by a higher alcohol content (14-15%) than in the rest of France (13-13.5%).  It is divided into four sub-regions, the two most important are the southern one with  the largest volume of production, and the northern one that produces the most prestigious wines of the region and that compete with those of Bordeaux and Burgundy. There are wine production records in the region since 71AD but its boom came when Pope Clement V moved the pontifical headquarters to Avignon in 1309.  About 75 percent of the wines for the papal court were from Rhone. Chateauneuf du Pape comes from there), the rest were from Burgundy.

The north Rhone region is home to the well-known appellations of Crozens–Hermitage and Hermitage which, being on the right side of the river, are favored by  the setting sun.  This region is the land of the Syrah grape, which is the only red grape allowed in wines, and Viognier for whites along with the Marsanne and Roussanne in the appellations of Condrieu and Chateau Grillet.  Whites are opulent and full-bodied. Vineyards are mainly family properties in steep slopes of the river and more than half of the wine is bottled by “negotiants” or traders (Chapoutier, Delas, Guigal,etc.). Northern reds are famous for their ability to age and improve over time (a good Hermitage is only optimal for drinking after 8 or up to 10 years of bottling).  Whites are at their point between 18 months and four years.

The southern Rhone region is very different in its topography (flat) and its wines, most are mixtures of various grapes and are lighter, because of the Grenache grape, that the northern ones dominated by the Syrah.  Even though the Syrah is booming, and is used in the blends to extend the life of the wine, Grenache is the most cultivated and is combined mostly with Carignan, Cinsault (Hermitage) and Mouverdre.. Reds tend to be fruity, with light species and herbs and tannins while northern reds are more chocolatey with flavors of black fruits, mocha and tobacco and stronger tannins characteristic of the Syrah grape. Cooperatives make about 70 percent of the wine, but there are appellations such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Villages within which 20 Villages (Villages) can add their name to the wine label (i.e. Giocondas, Vacqueiras, etc.). Rules here limit the yield of the vineyard to no more than 42 hl/ha (usually 50 or more in other regions) and require a minimum of 12.5 percent alcohol. No rosé production is allowed in the appellations of Chateauneuf but this occurs in the other Appellations in the region in important quantities and of good quality (only rosé is allowed in AC Tavel). Southern reds can last up to 25 years but do not improve over time after about 6 years and whites should be drunk young (maximum two years).

Climate: In the north it is continental with very cold winters and very warm summers suitable for robust grapes.  In the south it is Mediterranean suitable for fruit trees and vineyards. Common risks are rains during flowering in the north, frost and cold winds (mistral) in the south, and excessive rains in the fall that favor fungi.  Any one of those phenomena can ruin the crops.

Soils.  The north soils are granite residuals from the Massif Central of volcanic origin with excellent drainage, micas, flint and limestone residues.  In the south they are clay with gravel and limestone rock residue.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Jairo Sánchez

These are the wines: TBA

  1. 2015 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Crozes-Hermitage Blanc
  2. 2015 Vieilles Vignes, Domaine La Milliere, Chateaneuf Du Pape
  3. 2014 Le Pas de L’Aigle, Pierre Amadieu, Gigondas
  4. 2015 Les Hauts Lieux, Maison de Nuziere, Cote Rotie

This is the menu:

  • Gazpacho
  • Cheese plate
  • Veal ravioli
  • Beef Bourguignon
  • Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Clara Estrada, Jorge García, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, Jorge Requena, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices,  Pedro Turina, German Zincke

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2015 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Crozes-Hermitage Blanc

The Wine: Elegant and racy, with citrus spiked acidity nicely balanced by ripe pear, tropical apple and a hint of orange. Another terrific value from this acclaimed cooperative. Crozes-Hermitage white wines, made from Marsanne and Roussanne, are typically dry and medium-bodied, with rich flavors of white fruits and almonds.

GRAPES – Blend Marsanne and Roussan; STYLE – Elegant; TASTE — Citrus, Pear; BODY — Medium-bodied

The Winery: Shaped by our winegrowers, with its little dry stone walls, the imposing hill exposes its steep, south-facing terraces, sheltered from the northerly winds. The plain of Valence stops at its foot in the south, and in the west the Doux valley allows for a dip in the Ardeche plateau, prolonging the late afternoon sun exposure.  The vine culture on the Hermitage dates back over 2000 years and contributes to the legend. On these terraces, the work is done entirely by hand, the small walls stabilize the soil and the stakes (traditional wooden pegs) guide the vine. Cave de Tain, continues to embrace the traditions of tying the vines with straw, with that fine action of quickly and precisely tying “straw knots”: it takes years to master it!

Read more at: https://www.cavedetain.com/en/

2015 Vieilles Vignes, Domaine La Milliere, Chateaneuf Du Pape

The Wine: As described by winemaker: Stamp of fruity black cherry and floral peony aromas, behind those are spicy cacao and Prevencal heath scents. Powerful fleshy mouth-filling palate with dominant generous ripe small black fruit, the freshness of licorice and sweet spice. A long, expressive final, finishing with well-balanced spices.

Wine Advocate: “The 2015 Chateauneuf de Pape Vieilles Ville is a meaty, peppery, olive and dark fruit-driven effort that has a medium to full-bodied richness and a classic, old-school vibe.”

Vivino: Bold, a bit tannic, dry and not so acidic.

GRAPES — Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre; STYLE — Intense; TASTE Spice, Raspberry; BODY Full-bodied

The Winery:  Our vines delve deep into stony ground heated by the hot Provence sun and swept by the powerful Mistral wind. The priority is given to manual over mechanical; this includes a manual harvest, thinning, grassing and tilling etc. Our vineyards spread over 26 hectares: 14 ha are planted in the named area of “Cabrières” in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation area, 7 ha is shared between the production of the grapes for the Côtes du Rhône Villages and  Côtes du Rhône; while 5 ha is the source of theVin de Pays de Vaucluse. The oldest vines were planted between 1891 and 1920.   Cotes du Rhone complete their slow maturing in vats to retain their fresh, fruity characteristics. Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cru weds the old turns to peaceably fill out over 12 to 15 months

Read more at: http://www.la-milliere.com/en/

2014 Le Pas de L’Aigle, Pierre Amadieu, Gigondas

The Wine: As described by the winemaker: Deep dark color, intense nose and jammy fruit complex (prunes, figs) announce a silky mouth where delicate woven red fruit aromas with  spice and strength of jammy black fruit, bloom in a  superbly spicy and peppery final, impressive in length.

Vinous: “Deep red. Intensely perfumed raspberry, cherry and spicecake scents are complemented by hints of pungent flowers and chalky minerals…Flavors show impressive energy, and a spine of minerality adds definition and vibrant lift. Finishes very long…”

Vivino: Bold, more tannic than smooth, dry, somewhat acidic. Big fruit initially, medium soft tannins and spicy finish. GRAPES —  Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre; STYLE -Intense; TASTE — Spice, Black Fruit; BODY — Full-bodied

The Winery: The vineyard is 45 years old on average guarantying a very high level quality. The old vines of the domain correspond to the first plantations of the founder. Grapes are harvested by hand for a perfect sorting. From wine making up to the bottling the business is constantly in research of the perfect balance between the wine grower’s know-how and terroirs’ expression. The founder is a pioneer in several domains selecting wines, then buying in the 1950s, two properties, historically linked: Romane and La Machotte, becoming the largest estate of Gigondas with 137 ha of vines.

The expression of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault (for rosé) and Clairette (for white wine) on these terroirs among the highest of the appellation, is very personalized: wines are powerfully spiced. A smaller part of the vineyard (7 hectares) is in contrast in the Southwestern part of Gigondas. It is mainly planted with Mourvèdre, which grapes bring sunny and wild notes to the cuvée as well as the sharpness of sandier soils.

Read more at: http://www.pierre-amadieu.com/nos-actualites/en/

2015 Les Hauts Lieux, Maison de Nuziere, Cote Rotie 

The Wine: Wine Spectator: “Solidly built, with lots of savory and bay leaf notes, followed by lightly steeped raspberry, red currant and fig fruit flavors. Light leather, sanguine and iron details flash through the finish, adding length and range.”

Vivino: Bold, tannic, dry and acidic.

VARIETAL Shiraz; STYLE  Fresh; TASTE  Black Fruit, Cassis, Pepper; BODY  Full-bodied

The Winery: Established in Condrieu since 1876, Maison Denuziere now owns vineyards in the Cornas and Condrieu apellations. This new rooting in the vineyard, supplemented by grape contracts, now allows it to vinify and raises in its cellars a fine selection of wine from the norther Rhone Valley. The know-how and expertise of the house are also found in the supply work it operates in the greater Rhone Valley. Rich with a history more than a century old, the values of Maison Denuziere are attached to the prestigious terroirs of the regions. Freshness, flesh and purity of the fruit, the combination of a precise contemporary vinification and a pampered grape characterize the cuvées.

CV Members Rating 

View full evaluation here: 211 Summary of Tasting Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2014 Le Pas de L’Aigle, Pierre Amadieu, Gigondas 

Best Buy: 2014 Le Pas de L’Aigle, Pierre Amadieu, Gigondas 

Technical Notes 

Jairo Sanchez compiled a detailed note (including several maps) about the Rhone Region that you can read here: Rhone valley 211

 

 

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2 Responses to Tasting No. 211 – June 24, 2019-Rhone Wines

  1. Cecilio Augusto Berndsen says:

    Dear Alfonso
    I very much enjoyed your comprehensive report on the Rhone Valley. Great Job!

  2. Many thanks Cecilio.

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