This Week’s Wine Tasting

French Wines from the South of France

 

Brotte Family Wines– “Charles Brotte founded the Maison in 1931 as a negociant-eleveur.  Laurent, his grandson, is now in control of the company. Under Laurent’s direction, Maison Brotte has acquired ownership of a number of prestigious estates throughout the Rhone Valley, all of which are sustainably farmed.

Since four generations, the Brotte family specialises in making of Rhône Valley wines. In 1931, Charles Brotte, founder of Maison Brotte, moves to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, creating the first bottling line of the village and devoting its time in giving wine lovers all over the world quality  wines true to the style and character of the region. Later, in 1952, this is his creation “La Fiole du Pape” which will bring worldwide success for a Châteauneuf-du-Pape which today is exported in 90 countries worldwide.

Today, Maison Brotte is a dynamic winery which owns over 60ha over 4 properties:  Domaine Barville, Château de Bord, Domaine Grosset and Domaine de l’Aube but also a bottling and a vinification unit . Maison Brotte finally welcomes you in its Wine Museum (since 1972) where you will learn about the Rhône Valley, its wines and appellations, especially Châteauneuf-du-Pape.”

Brotte Viognier Vin de Pays d’Oc 2014– Vin de Pays d’Oc, Languedoc-Roussillon, France. “We selected terroir with a dominance of clay and limestone in order to obtain natural freshness and minerality. Situated in the Gard region with a very important level of sunshine and log dry summers, the viognier grape consistently achieves perfect maturity and state. Harvest is spread over several days in order to pick at perfect maturity. Alcoholic fementation in stainless steel vats for 15 days between 18° and 20°C. No malolactic fermentation to retain freshness and aromas. Bottled in March after harvest. Appearance– Pale straw. Nose– An elegant mix between white flowers, pineapple and grapefruit. Palate– Very aromatic and mouthfilling attack dominated by exotic and citrus fruits. White flowers and grapefruit dominate the finish leaving a very pleasant and refreshing cleansing feeling. Drink as an apéritif or with roasted goat cheese tartines, tuna carpaccio, white asparagus, white fish and seafood with exotic sauce. Cheese platter or chicken with green olives. $10.99

Brotte Cotes du Rhone Rouge ‘Esprit Barville’ 2013– Cotes du Rhone, France. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. “With this new cuvee this is all our winemaking know-how that is represented in the production of a prestigious Côtes du Rhône. Its roots are reflected in its name: «  Barville » the history of our ancestors in Châteauneuf-du-Pape since 1880. A great wine that shows character and elegance, able to rival the most notorious producers of this appellation. It is also our way to celebrate a historical grape varietal, king of the southern Rhône: Grenache. To get the best out of our Grenache, we work on parcels where sustainable viticulture is applied, with a strict winter pruning in order to limit the yield in favor of concentration. Our Grenache are always handpicked at perfect maturity.  Sustainable viticulture with de-leafing, de-budding and green harvest. Hand-harvested at peak maturity followed by a light crushing and a traditional vinification in closed concrete tanks. Fermentation at 28°C – 30°C with a twice daily pump-over for 15 to 20 days, followed by cap plunging and lees stirring. After completing its malolactic fermentation the wine is aged in oak casks for 12 months and is bottled in the autumn/winter of the following year. Colour– Dark ruby with light edges. Nose– Medium intensity with aromas of small stone fruits and delicately spicy hints of pepper and thyme. Palate– Smooth, warming and elegant. Its aromas recall wild red fruits, dark cherries, forest floor and liquorice. The tannins are soft yet precise. Enjoy with a wild mushroom omelette, veal or beef fillets, sausages or with a dessert of chocolate and cherry cake.” $12.99

Brotte Crozes-Hermitage ‘La Rollande’ 2012– Northern Rhone Valley, France. Syrah. “This appellation spreads over 11 communes within a triangle formed between the hills of Tain l’Hermitage, the Rhône River and the Isère River. It is, in volume, the most important cru of the Northern Rhône. The vineyards are situated on the plain below the surrounding hills where the soils are made up of granite and quaternary alluvial deposits left by the Isère River (clay and gravel). We select our wine yearly from amongst a small group of trusted wineries of the appellation with whom we have been working for many years. Ploughing of the soils, de-leafing and green harvest during the year. The grapes are hand harvested at full maturity. Grapes are then de-stemmed and crushed. The maceration last 15 days in stainless steel vats at a medium temperature (26°C – 28°C) in order to preserve primary fruit aromas. The wine is then aged in oak cask and concrete tanks for 12 months before bottling. Colour– Dark with hints of deep purple. Nose– Intense blackcurrant and violet aromas with spicy notes of white pepper, liquorice, vanilla, black olives and a hint of laurel leaves. Palate– Harmonious and firm, suggestive of cherries and blackcurrant with long and well defined tannins on the finish. Enjoy with duck breast in green pepper sauce, potato dauphinois, veal prune and almond tagine, soft cheeses or even ice cream with chocolate & star anise sauce.” $17.99

Brotte Vacqueyras ‘Bouvencourt’ 2013– Southern Rhone Valley, France. Grenache Noir, Syrah. “Benefitting fully from the distinctive characteristics of this appellation, we have created a wine bursting with freshness, complexity and elegance true to its terroir. We have selected old vines aged between 80 and 100 years from parcels situated on the clay-limestone soils above the village of Vacqueyras. The great age of the vines with their naturally low yields emphasizes the exclusivity of this cuvée. We limit production to just 600 bottles a year so that the full potential of the fruit may be realized, concentrating the flavours and expressing character of unparalleled quality. The soils are worked throughout the year with sustainable farming methods. Pruning and de-leafing followed by hand-harvesting into small cases and quick transport to the winery to prevent degradation of the fruit. Maceration in concrete tanks for 4 to 5 weeks. 100% aged in 3-year-old oak barrels for 12 months. Blending takes place 6 weeks before the wine is bottled without filtration. Colour– Deep red with carmine glints. Nose– Elegantly reminiscent of black fruits (blackberry and cassis) with a background of raspberry and maraschino cherry. Palate– Following on perfectly from the nose, the palate is unctuous and lifted by notes of fresh forest fruits and warm spices. Fine, rich tannins mark this as a wine of great ageing potential. Enjoy with veal provençale, braised pheasant, black olive fougasse [bread], strong cheese platters or chocolate cupcakes.” $19.99

 

Chateau de Campuget– “The Château de Campuget is, above all, the adventure of a Northern family who came to settle not far from the Mediterranean during the war; located on the slopes of the Nîmes ‘Costières.’

Since 1942, pur sole aim has been to produce Rhône Valley Grands Vins, respecting the heritage of our soil and our identity. The round Rhône stones, the Southern sun, the Mistral winds and the Syrah and Grenache grapes are the basic elements which form the identity of Campuget. Our professional ethic is simple: we pursue a ceaseless quest to improve the quality of our wines by a better knowledge of our soil and our vines… yes, it’s all in the vines … As we prepare our assemblages, our vintages and our wines, our passion for quality is guided by the thoughts of the pleasure that they will bring and the emotions they will stir.”

Chateau de Campuget Tradition Rose 2014– Costieres de Nimes, Rhone Valley, France. ” Campuget Rose’s color is obtained through a short maceration between four and twelve hours, according to the varietal. Fermentation takes place in stainless-steel tanks with the temperature controlled at 18°C in order to extract the maximum aromas. After racking and filtration, the wine is immediately bottled at the Château. A blend of Syrah (70%) and Grenache Noir (30%). Perfect for summertime meals around the pool, with fresh salads or ribs at a barbecue on the beach. It is particularly recommended with grilled red peppers pickled with the olive oil from Campuget. Its color is an intense peony pink. Its bouquet is very aromatic, exhaling scents of small red fruits such as raspberries or black currants. In the mouth, there is a perfect balance between vivacity and mellowness. The final taste is very long, leaving a delicate impression of fruitiness.” $11.99

 

Michel Gassier– “With encyclopedic knowledge of the wines and terroirs of the Rhône as well as his native Costieres de Nîmes, Michel Gassier is a restless and innovative vigneron. Usually inquisitive personalities like Michel start as outsiders, infant terribles, and iconoclasts. Such is not the case with Michel, whose family has been growing grapes and making wine in the Costieres de Nîmes for four generations. Together with his wife Tina, they are helping to establish a new level of quality for Costieres de Nîmes without forsaking the uniqueness of their terroir.

They have achieved this through nurturing their land, farming organically, promoting biodiversity, and respecting their employees as much as their vines. They are proponents of indigenous varieties and taking advantage of the diversity of climates to make wines that are dense and pure but elegantly balanced. Cercius is made in partnership with Eric Solomon and Philippe Cambie from several sites throughout the Rhône valley. Nostre Païs is the epitome of the terroir of the Costieres de Nîmes while Lou Coucardié represents the aspirations of Michel and Tina through conversation with the land and its history.”

Michel Gassier Cercius Rouge 2012– Rhone Valley, France. A blend of Grenache and Syrah from 80+ year old vines. Farming: Practicing organic, undergoing certification. Fermented in concrete aged for 9 months in concrete. 91 Wine Advocate- “A joint venture between Gassier, Philippe Cambie, and importer Eric Solomon, the 2012 Cercius Vieilles Vignes is a year in, year out ridiculous value that also drinks well past its humble price point. Comprised of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah that was aged for 6 months in concrete, it has loads of raspberry, licorice, mineral and Provencal herbs as well as a soft, supple and silky textured feel on the palate. Coming from old Grenache vines (70-90 years in age) located on the Plateau de Domazan – which lies on the right bank of the Rhone river, just west of Avignon – and bottled unfined and unfiltered, it is a quintessential Cotes du Rhone that will deliver the goods for 4-5 years, possibly longer. The leading estate in the potential rich Costieres de Nimes region, these knockout wines are made by the talented Michel Gassier, who is leading the way in this appellation and showing what’s possible when you focus on quality. Both the 2011s (which are as good, if not better than his 2010s) and 2012s are incredibly strong here.” $13.99