Andre Brunel Cotes du Rhone Villages Cuvee Sabrine 2016
The Brunel family’s winemaking history reaches back to the 17th century with the purchase of a vineyard plot to the north of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation from the Bishop of Avignon. Numerous generations followed, all working in the vineyards, but it was in 1954 that Lucien Brunel created the name "Les Cailloux" or "The Pebbles" to promote the Domaine’s wine qualities and special geological characteristic of the large oval stones covering his vineyards.
In 1971, Lucien’s son André Brunel took the helm at Domaine Les Cailloux. His endless motivation and eye for quality resulted in a steady expansion of the family’s vineyards with acquisitions in the Côtes du Rhône and select plots of Vaucluse Vins de Pays. In 1989 he launched the now coveted Cuvée Centenaire and continued to improve the vineyard management practices. André was one of the first in Châteauneuf-du-Pape to use tailored ground cover methods and to practice a non-chemical approach to farming his vineyards.
In 2012, André’s son, Fabrice Brunel, joined the team to ensure the family’s history and passion would continue. The pursuit for quality; the utmost respect for the land; and the drive to produce beautiful wines, which are both enjoyable in the immediate present as well as in future years with excellent aging potential, the Brunel family is meticulous in cultivating vineyards, sourcing quality grapes, and winemaking style.
An appellation full of some of the most delightful and particularly charming reds, Côtes du Rhône Villages includes the best villages of the greater Côtes du Rhône appellation. The possibility for an appellation promotion exists for every named village but each has to achieve and prove superior quality before an upgrade will be granted. The main ones today are Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Beaumes-de-Venise, Vinsobres, Rasteau and Cairanne.
The Gigondas appellation, while sometimes producing wines with a touch of rusticity, can often rival Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Its elevations are higher and soils richer in limestone. Vacqueyras reds are more concentrated than the more general Côtes du Rhône reds and must be at least one half comprised of Grenache by law. Beaumes de Venise also includes some excellent higher elevation spots for making snappy, fruity and spicy reds but historically the appellation’s esteem came from its fragrant, sweet and golden Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.