Wine Hotline Hits the Road: France Part II

A group of Binny’s wine people traveled to the Rhone Valley in France, joined by legendary importer Peter Weygandt. Check out day one from Binny’s South Loop Wine Manager Don Sheil here. He continues to share his experience:

 

Wine Barrels

 

We spend time at Domaine Les Aphillanthes, near the village of Rasteau, with vigneron Daniel Boulle. We tasted several interesting wines – the 2011 Rasteau 1921 Cuvee is epscially good (2010 here). The name refers to the year the vines were planted – aromas of blackberry, licorice and Provencal herbs abound. The finish is long and the flavors complete across the palate.

 

Wines of Domaine Les Aphillanthes

 

We also visit Domaine Saint Damien, just outside the village of Gigondas, with winemaker Joel Saurel. Standout cuvees include the Les Souteyrades, La Lousiane and La Bouveau. Once again, the 2012 tank samples show amazing potential and, in my humble opinion, should garner fantastic scores from the critics.

 

Rhone Vineyards

Wines of Domaine Saint Damien

 

This stop is especially memorable not just for the impeccable wines but the incredible lunch we shared with Joel and his family on their garden patio. Everything ultra fresh and locally sourced, from the pureed vegetable soup paired with a 2012 Chene Bleu Rose to the wild boar matched with a 2007 Les Souteyrades Gigondas – wow! The meal is to die for but the warmth and hospitality of Joel and his family make this a special day.

 

aphlunchy

 

Then, we’re off to Domaine Grand Nicolet, another small producer a few miles down the road from St Damien, offering an impressive array of Cotes du Rhone, particularly the 2012 vat samples. Owner Jean Pierre Bertrand confirms what we have heard from other producers: 2013 yields are low – in this case very low – down 65% from a good year.

 

As with every winery we visit, the vigneron is cordial, welcoming and brave faced, but it’s possible to sense the real concern and worry these small houses are experiencing as they try to make the best of a challenging harvest. The grencache harvest throughout the Southern Rhone is especially difficult this year. Yields are down across the board and, as of the second week of October, most of these grapes have yet to be picked as the vignerons patiently wait for this critical varietal to reach phenolic ripeness.

 

Barbara Hermann at Grand Nicolet

 

Don will be back with one more post On the Road from the Rhone tomorrow. And be sure to check out On the Road on the Binny’s Blog for more journeys all over the world.

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