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Domaine le Couroulu Vacqueyras Cuvee Classique 2008

Rhone Red Blends from Vacqueyras, Rhone, France
  • WS88
13.5% ABV
  • RP89
  • RP94
  • RP90
  • WS90
  • RP90
  • WS90
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13.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The growing season stared off well, but the summer was cooler and more rainy than usual. Though the water was greatly needed, it did slow down ripening. Fortunately, the weather improved as harvest approached: in September and early October, warm and dry days, cool nights, and – very importantly – a good Mistral wind which blocked the onset of rot, made for an excellent harvest. We did a severe selection of grapes on the vine and blended the fruit from our Vieilles Vignes vineyard on the plateau with the fruit we kept for the Classique.Our 2008 has an expressive nose of Provencal herbs and garrigue, and substantial, crunchy, fresh black fruit with notes of licorice and blackberry. The finish is long and succulent, making the 2008 Vacqueyras Cuvee Classique perfect for current enjoyment.

Critical Acclaim

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WS 88
Wine Spectator
A touch taut in feel, but delivering a good core of damson plum, cherry pit and plum skin notes, with a note of lightly roasted mesquite. Drink now through 2013.
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Domaine le Couroulu

Domaine le Couroulu

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Domaine le Couroulu, Vacqueyras, Rhone, France
Image of winery
Located in between Gigondas and Chateauneuf du Pape, the village of Vacqueyras was finally granted its own AC in 1990 after vociferous lobbying. Domaine Le Couroulu, founded in 1928 and still owned by the Ricard family, is known for producing some of the most full-bodied Vacqueyras and other wines from their 20 hectares of old Grenache and Syrah vines.

The estate is named for the Curlew bird, which is known in Provencal dialect as Couroulu: this bird is the signature emblem on the Domaine’s labels. Winemaker Guy Ricard, who represents the third generation, is one of the Rhone’s most passionate and pleasant personalities, qualities which are reflected in his generous and engaging wines.

Vacqueyras

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This charming appellation within the Cote du Rhone Villages was second only to Gigondas to earn its own village appellation status. Its wines may be red, rosé or white—though hardly any is white. Its high winemaking standards follow many of the same rules as Chateauneuf-du-Pape. But for Vacqueyras red wines, half of the grapes have to be Grenache and the remainder is usually a combination of Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault.

While they can be robust and rustic in style, typically a great Vacqueyras red combines delicate aromas with intense fruit and a bright, crisp texture. They certainly don’t lack any character and show an abundance of black cherry, wild berry, plum, fig, baking spice, and a touch of game or smoke.

Rhône Blends

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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.

Perfect Pairings

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.

Sommelier Secret

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.

AIWCOURVACQCUVCL_2008 Item# 109057