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Domaine La Garrigue Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Romaine 2007
"The 2007 Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Romaine, a custom cuvee for importer EricSolomon made from 60 to 90-year old vines, is a joint project of Solomon and the Bernard family that owns the wonderful Gigondas restaurant, Les Florets, and the brilliantoenologist, Philippe Cambie. A sensational blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, and10% Syrah, it boasts a dense purple color along with a gorgeous nose of creosote, kirsch, blackberries, licorice, and hints of smoked herbs and roasted meats. The wine possesses fabulous ripeness, fresh acidity, full body, and layers of both flavor and depth. It is a remarkable effort, but readers who purchase it should be sure it has the Eric Solomon strip label as the same wine, bottled much later, is sold in other markets." 92 Points,
The climate in the Southern Rhone is extremely warm in the summer, with consistent temperatures in the 90's during July and August. This makes rich, full-bodied, and spicy wines. The soil is similar to that of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, with massive rocks called "galets" dotting the vineyards. The old bush vines of Garrigue are planted on these "galets" and for most of the vineyards, there is not soil present to the eye, just rock.
This property focuses on making wines with minimal manipulation to let the terroir speak through the wines. The old vines of Domaine de la Garrigue were planted in the late 1940's, just after the Germans left the area following the second World War. Before the war, the area was planted primarily to other crops, including sunflowers and tomatoes. However, the Romans were making wine here centuries ago and shipping it hundreds of miles away. Hence, the cuvee name "Cuvee Romaine".
Typically though if as a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the term Cotes du Rhone actually doesn’t merely apply to the flatter outskirts of that and other more major southern Rhone appellations, it also includes the fringes of well-respected northern Rhone appellations. White can be produced under the appellation name, but very little is actually made.
The region offers some of the best values in France and even some first-rate and age-worthy reds. Red varieties include most of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape varieties like Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsaut, and Counoise, as well as Carignan. White grapes grown include Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Viognier, among others.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice, Rhône red blends originated in France’s Southern Rhône valley and have become popular in Priorat, Washington, South Australia, and California’s Central Coast. In the Rhône itself, 19 grape varieties are permitted for use, but many of these blends, are based on Grenache and supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre, earning the nickname “GSM blends.” Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are perhaps the best-known outposts for these wines. Other varieties that may be found in Rhône blends include Carignan, Cinsault, and Counoise.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache, which often forms the base of these blends, is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit, a plush texture, and often high levels of alcohol. Syrah supplies darker fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy, and meaty notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume as well as body, tannin, and a healthy dose of color. New World examples will lie further along the fruit-forward end of the spectrum, while those from the Old World taste and smell much earthier, often with a “barnyard” character that is attractive to many fans of these wines.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. Depending on the weight and alcohol level, these can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes—they play equally well with beef, pork, duck, lamb, or game. With their high acidity, these wines are best-matched with salty or fatty foods, and can handle the acidity of tomato sauce in pizza or pasta. Braised beef cheeks, grilled lamb sausages, or roasted squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the Rhône red blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin, and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or even Tempranillo make an appearance.