If you haven't been following the wine news lately, you should do yourself a favour and read up on the 2007 Rhône vintage - one of the great high points of 2007 in the northern hemisphere. The wines are currently rolling into markets worldwide. Now is the time to stock up on some extraordinary values. If you enjoy Rhône reds pay particular attention to the 2007 wines that come in bearing the 'Côtes du Rhône-Villages' appellation (a step up from basic Côtes du Rhône). Village after village has managed more consistent and more powerful wines than any vintage in recent memory. The Shiraz and/or Grenache based blends are offering wine lovers a rare combination of exuberant ripe fruit, high natural alcohol, good balancing acidity, intensity of flavour and wonderfully soft-textured tannins. (Comparisons to South Australian wines of similar ilk are not far from the mark).
RHONE 2007 : THE VINTAGE OF 100 POINTS
Robert Parker, pioneer of the most influential numerical wine-rating system currently in use describes this as the 'vintage of his lifetime'
and has already awarded 100 points to an unprecedented 10 different '07 Rhône releases and upgraded many others to 96+. You might respond to such scores with visceral awe or just plain cynicism. Like it or not, numerical ratings for wines are so firmly entrenched in wine markets around the world that they're now demanded by consumers everywhere wanting to reduce their risk of purchase. There's cause for reflection as to the wider impact that the popularization of such rating systems have had on international markets, wine prices and styles. One positive contribution has been to jettison the elitist jargon of times past and destroy the 'feudal system' which continually rewarded only those vineyards on the most prestigious sites - both factors that too easily veil quality from the consumer. In this respect, Parker as pioneer and consummate consumer advocate earns his legitimacy "...at least in part by being an unimpeachable champion of the proletariat drinker, a poor pleb who knows himself too often beaten into submission by the grand tradition and price of wine, but who is also keenly aware of his own limitations in that vast world".
Consequently, "Parker's wine credentials turn out to be no less moral than oenological".
Small and large vineyards around the world now occupy a meritocracy where equal opportunities for high ratings exist, so encouraging indifferent winemakers to innovate and improve overall quality. This is certainly the case with regard to the three Rhône wines featured below. The common driving force behind each is Rhône consultant, Phillippe Cambie, whose huge physical proportions are matched by his obsession for ripe fruit and an uncanny ability on the blending table, backed up by a track record for re-invigorating estates stagnating in tradition. As usual, the ratings below are our own, though where possible we've included extra reviews from Robert Parker. You'll notice our scores consistently come in marginally higher than Parker's. This is partly because the Winespider evaluation method we use places greater emphasis on a wine's colour, particularly for young reds.
No wholesaler margins apply here. One shipment only of these wines is available. We encourage you to jump at the opportunity.
Critics and importers who can afford to tour European wine regions on a regular basis are fortunate, but increasing costs and limited resources usually make such adventures unviable for southern hemisphere retailers. Travel expenses have to be factored into any ensuing shipment, meaning the consumer ultimately pays more. To maximise value for money, we choose to call for samples to be sent to us and deal directly with the vignerons.
The first hectare of vines was planted on the Domaine Grand Nicolet property in 1875. The present owner, Jean Pierre Bertrand purchased the Estate in 1999. A blend of 80% Grenache (sourced from 60 year old vines) and 20% Syrah (sourced from 30 year old vines) this wine displays outstanding colour for its predominately Grenache base.
Opaque dark red black colour with dark crimson red hue. Aromas of ripe blackberry, dark raspberry and liquorice followed by some meaty and spice end notes. The palate is full bodied delivering flavours of rich ripe blackberry, spice and liquorice followed by a very strong white pepper character that persists right throughout the wine. Dry, slightly firmish tannins but in perfect balance to the fruit. Long aftertaste of white and black pepper, liquorice and spice.
Cellar 4-5 years (2014-2015)
These fairly priced as well as exceptionally high quality efforts are made under the guidance of winemaking consultant Philippe Cambie, who has quickly brought Domaine Grand Nicolet to the top. Chocolate, creme de cassis, graphite, and pen ink characteristics can be found in the inky/purple-coloured 2007 Cotes du Rhone-Villages Rasteau Vieilles Vignes. Old vine Grenache dominates this full-bodied, powerful, tannic, brawny, muscular wine. Think of it as a nose tackle in professional football, it’s that big.
Anticipated maturity: 2011-2020+. 91-93 points Robert Parker – The Wine Advocate