Department 66 Pharaon 2014
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In France, the "department" exists as an administrative division much like a county does in America. Deep in the Southwest corner of the country lies Department 66, which serves as the inspiration and namesake for our winery and vineyards in the town of Maury. Roughly two hours east of Barcelona, Spain and thirty minutes inland from the ancient Roman port city of Perpignan, old vine Grenache thrives along with Syrah and Carignan in the "Cotes Catalanes;" a sub-appellation of the Roussillon. We own and maintain 300 acres (120 hectares) of vineyards among the Pyrénées-Orientales mountain range, which were planted more than 60 years ago. The terroir is dominated by black schist, with small deposits of granite and limestone in red, rocky soils known as angile. Similar to the nearby growing region of Priorat in Spanish Catalonia, schist is a crystalline rock based soil that retains heat well but is poor in organic nutrients and nitrogens. Apart from lowland scrub, “garrigue,” and sparse tree plantings, very little agriculture survives here. The intense heat from the daytime sun is reflected back to the gnarled, head trained vines at night, increasing ripeness while maintaining acidity. The result is a very low yield (half ton per acre), but makes for a dark, concentrated, and finesse driven wine that embodies this singular region. General Manager Richard Case and Vineyard Manager & Cellarmaster Bob Doyle continue to make this dream a reality since 2008.
Setting the standards for red wine production worldwide, France holds rank as the source of the world’s most popular red grape varieties. Famous for their elegance, grace and longevity, the red wines of France come in a variety of styles.
Burgundy claims some of the most desirable vineyard real estate on the planet and remains a source of the world’s most coveted Pinot noir. A powerhouse producer of red wines based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Bordeaux sits on France’s western side, separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a coastal pine forest. The region’s mild, maritime climate and gravel-heavy soils are perfect for the production of highly structured, cellar-worthy red wines. In the south, the long and narrow Rhône River Valley produces full-bodied, flavorful reds. Syrah makes its home in the Northern Rhône where a continental climate and steep hillside vineyards create some of the best in the world. Southern Rhône’s Grenache-based blends easily charm most any wine enthusiast. For those after a more delicate red, the Loire Valley’s Cabernet Franc maintains a loyal line of followers.