Southern Rhône, France
We took a left off the N7 between Lyon and Auvignon and put our faith in the SatNav to get us to Vinsobres. Well, SatNav took us on the scenic route from Valréas and made finding Chaume-Arnaud much more difficult.
DOMAINE CHAUME-ARNAUDRD 94 entre St-Maurice sur Eygues et Vinsobres, 26110 Vinsobres, Tel 04 75 27 66 85
Looking across Vinsobres towards Mont Ventoux
Chaume-Arnaud tasting room
We started with their white ‘11 Côtes du Rhône Villages, La Cadène (€11), a blend of Marsanne and Viognier; very peppery and quite unusual. The ’12 Côtes du Rhône (€7.50) is the traditional blend of Grenache (60%), Syrah (20%) and Cinsault (20%); made in concrete tanks with no oak to keep the fruits fresh. The ’10 Saint Maurice (€8) is the same blend but comes from the village down the road; spicy, peppery. The ’11 Vinsobres (€9.50) is a blend of Grenache (60%), Syrah (20%) and Mourvèdre (20%) often referred to as GSM; typical Grenache nose, good body and very fruity. The ’10 La Calèma (€15) GSM only made in good vintages from 50 to 90 year old vines; great fruit and tannins. We bought the latter two.
DOMAINE LA SOUMADERoute d'Orange - 84110 Rasteau Tél. : 04 90 46 13 63 www.domainelasoumade.fr
View from Domaine la Soumade
A great view from their tasting room. Their wines were all GSM with the Grenache being 80% from the ’11 vintage. We started with their village wine, the Rasteau (€9); good fruit and tannins. The Prestige (€12) was made from 20 to 40 year-old vines; great fruit. The Cuvee Confiance was made from 50 to 80 year-old vines; great body and fruit. To our taste the Grenache was too dominant and the sweetness that we don’t like came through. However if that is what you like then these are the wines for you.
DOMAINE DE MOURCHONLa Grande Montagne, 84110 Séguret Tel 00 33 4 90 46 70 30 www.domainedemourchon.com
View from Domaine de Mourchon
Another great view from a tasting room. Their white Côtes du Rhône the ’13 Blanc La Source (€7.50) has everything in it – Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Clairette and Bourboulenc in decreasing percentages; peachy and floral. The ’11 Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret Tradition rouge (€8.95) was a blend of Grenache (65%) Syrah and Carignan made without wood; really liked this, full of fruit but not too sweet. We bought both of these. The ’10 Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret Family Reserve Syrah (€22.50) was very bold and full of fruit. The other wines we tasted were 15° or more - too alcoholic to buy in our minds. The ’11 Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret Grande Reserve Rouge (€16.50) partly made in oak was a big wine, full of fruit and tannins. The Chateauneuf du Pape (€25) is made from bought-in grapes when the vintage is good. The ’11 Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret Family Reserve Grenache (€27.50) was huge and fruity. We finished off with a sticky, the ’11 Vin de France Secret with 17° which, surprisingly, did not have any alcohol added to reach that degree; they said it was great with chocolate and we agreed so we bought that too.
DOMAINE LES GOUBERT84190 Gigondas Tel 04.90.65.86.38 www.lesgoubert.fr
We did not try their whites or the rosé. The ’12 Côtes du Rhône (€6) was made from Grenache, Syrah, Carignan plus a few others; good fruit and tannins. The ‘12 Gigondas Classique (€13.50) was GSM plus Cinsault and Clairette and was partially oaked in old barrels; nicely balanced with very good fruit, not fined or filtered so a full mouth feel. The ’09 Gigondas Florence (€26) was just Grenache and Syrah; new and 2nd fill oak still dominant but hopefully will integrate by the drinking date of about 2020. We bought the Classique.
CHATEAU DE SAINT COSMELa Fouille et les Florets, 84190 Gigondas Tel 0490 658 080 www.saintcosme.com
The ’12 Saint Cosme, Côtes du Rhône blanc (€9) is a blend of Marsanne, Rousanne and Viognier. The Viognier is very much to the fore on the nose and palate; the other two are at the back for body. The ’11 Saint Cosme, Côtes du Rhône (€6) is a blend of Syrah from the north and south Rhone; fruity, peppery, no oak, for early drinking. The ’12 Château de St Cosme, Les Deux Albion (€9.50) is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Clairette partlyaged in old oak; a typical Grenache nose and taste, restrained fruits and good tannins. The ’12 Château de St Cosme, Gigondas (€20) is 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 18% Mourvèdre and 2% Cinsault. This has great fruit, strong tannins and lots of wood – start drinking 2020. We bought this. They also have 3 or 4 vineyard Gigondas, considerably more expense, so we did not taste those.
DOMAINE DE MONTVACCécile et Jean Dusserre 84190 Vacqueyras Tél 04 90 65 85 51 www.domainedemontvac.fr
The ’12 Vacqueyras Mélodine blanc (€14.50) was a blend of Marsanne (40%), Clairette (40%), Viognier and Bourboulenc. The ’11 Vacqueyras Arabesque (€10.50) was a blend of Grenache (70%) and Syrah with a touch of Mourvèdre; typical Grenache on the nose, easy drinking. The ’10 Vacqueyras Vincila (€13.50) was a blend of Grenache (60%) and Syrah with a little old oak made from selected old vine grapes; very fine. The ’11 Vacqueyras Variation (€16.50) was almost all Grenache selected from one vineyard. No oak was used, they said it was all about the vineyard and the time when the grapes were picked; very fine and not a typical Grenache, seemed a touch light. We also tried their ’11 Gigondas (€14) which was the same blend as the Arabesque; a little oak, great fruit, spicy. We bought the Mélodine and Vincila.
DOMAINE DES BERNARDINSCave Castaud, 138 Avenue Gambetta, 84190 Beaumes de Venise Tel : 04 90 62 94 13 www.domaine-des-bernardins.com
We have always thought that Muscat de Beaumes de Venise was light, a typical vin doux naturel. The ’12 Bernardins version (€12.60 or €6.90 for a half bottle) was anything but. At 15° it was intense, unctuous, excellent. We also tried the non-vintage Hommage but bought the half bottles.
We subsequently had a somewhat strange experience with the '12 half bottles. We were looking to stock them as an alternative sweet wine so had a sample sent down. This sample was a kind of black pink (if one can image such a thing) and certainly did not taste like what we had in the tasting room. We opened one of the half bottles that we had bought and it was the same as the sample. Had it tasted like this when we were at the domaine we would certainly not have bought it. A short while later we were at a trade tasting in London and tasted the '12 again; same result. We bumped into Steven Spurrier and asked him to taste with us; he agreed that there was something not right. All along the domaine denied that there was anything wrong. Needless to say we will not be stocking the '12 but will try the next vintage to see if it has gone back to the wine that we enjoyed.
DOMAINE DU VIEUX TÉLÉGRAPHE3, Route de Châteauneuf du Pape, 84370 Bédarrides Tel 04 90 33 00 31 Vieux Télégraphe website
Rousanne and Clairette; the Rousanne clearly evident, good body. The Vieux Télégraphe La Crau Roquette (€48) was a blend of Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc. Then onto the reds. The ‘12 Vieux Télégraphe Telegramme is a light, early drinking wine made from the grapes of young vines. The ’11 Domaine la Roquette Piedlong (€36) is 80% of 70 year-old Grenache and 20% of 50 year-old Mourvèdres; plenty of tannins, at least 4 years before drinking. The ‘11 Vieux Télégraphe (€55) is Grenache (65%), Mourvèdre (15%), Syrah (15%); Cinsault, Clairette and sundry others (5%) from vines that are 60 years old on average; fruity, well balanced. Somehow we came away feeling a bit disappointed. The wines were not as big as we had expected and were pricey relative to what we had tasted elsewhere; maybe our general lack of love for Grenache showing through; but then it could just be that 2011 was a pretty poor vintage in this part of the world.
CHÂTEAU LA NERTHEroute de Sorgues, 84230 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tel 04 90 83 70 11 www.chateaulanerthe.fr
When we arrived we found to our consternation that their tasting room was being renovated. So with nothing to lose we went to the office to ask for a tasting. They took pity on us and took us down to their catering kitchen for a tasting. The general manager came down to apologise but, as we said, if the wine is great one doesn’t need fancy tasting rooms but if the wine is not so good then the tasting rooms had better be good. The kitchen was a good place for tasting! The ’13 La Nerthe white (€33) contains Grenache blanc 27 %, Roussane 39 %, Bourboulenc 15 % and Clairette 19 % and about 40% was aged in oak; great body, integrated oak, clean and fresh – really lovely. The ’09 Clos de Beauvène (€63) was a blend of Roussane and Clairette, 100% vinified and aged in oak; too woody for us. The ’09 La Nerthe red (€33) was the GSM blend plus a couple of others with the Grenache being 50%. This had great fruit and soft tannins; just our kind of wine and we bought this. The ’09 Cuvée des Cadettes (€70) was also GSM with even less Grenache and a large slug of Syrah all aged in new oak. We would have thought that this was right up our street, it was fruity with lots of new oak evident but we preferred the La Nerthe.
DOMAINE CLOS DES PAPES13 Avenue Saint-Pierre de Luxembourg, 84230 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Phone:+33 4 90 83 70 13 www.clos-des-papes.fr
We found them, but in the afternoon and they are only open mornings.
ROGER SABONBP N° 57 - Avenue Impériale, 84232 Châteauneuf du Pape Cedex 2 Tél : 04 90 83 71 72 www.roger-sabon.com
Sabon’s wines are highly rated by Parker and it is not difficult to see why. The ’11 Olivets (€16.90) is a Greache, Syrah, Cinsault blend that is dark in colour with good fruit and tannins. The ’11 Reserve (€22.50) is a GSM blend that is definitely a step-up with great fruits. The ’11 Prestige (€33.80) is 95% old vine Grenache to which has been added SM and a few others; intense in everything, colour, fruit the lot. We prefer the less intense styles that we found elsewhere.
That said, we do think that that it is an excellent example of what it is and so bought half bottles of his Cote de Rhone for our website see here. Unfortunately he is no longer packaging half bottles so when the current stock is gone, that's it.