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2009 Domaine des Escaravailles Les Hautes Granges Roaix Cotes du Rhone
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- Cellar 4 - 5 years (2015-2016)
- ABV 15%
- Closure: Cork
2009 in the Southern Rhone is been lauded in some circles as a successor to the stunning 2007 vintage; if not the 'vintage of a lifetime', then at least the 'vintage of a decade'. While it's true that there are remarkable bargains to be found and prices generally remain stable, it is not a carbon copy of 2007. 2009 was characterised by extended dry, hot conditions (there were 24 days on which the thermometer reached 35ºC, compared with only seven in 2007). Drought prevailed and some traditional, non irrigated vineyards exceeded stress thresholds rather than controlling tension. Scanty rains that came too late restored a semblance of balance, but it was only the less well drained and more expensive terroirs, like Vacqueyras and Gigondas, that produced uniform results.
The consensus amongst those who have conducted a comprehensive survey is that, overall, the quality is excellent but not as high as 2007 and, like the shock heatwave that hit South East Australia in '08, it is the seasoned and highly skilled vignerons who have risen to the top, (in particular, those who postponed harvest and benefited from the late September rains. This increased acidity and slightly diluted grape sugars). At the bottom of the pool are a minority who, for various reasons, including difficulty fermenting to dryness due to the elevated sugars, produced wines lacking the fruit/acid/tannin balance that winelovers expect from even the lowest appellation cuvees.What does all this mean for the consumer? No question, 2009 in the Southern Rhone is another bargain hunter's delight. On the village level it offers opulent reds with outstanding concentration that are freak values by global standards. One only needs to exercise a little more caution and discernment to find them. Two other pluses make it a compelling vintage for Australian palates: The slightly less effusive international hype for '09 means that producers have had no justification to raise prices (except for the fact that yields were down). In fact, given their desperation to move mediocre wines from the diluted, rain drenched 2008 vintage (which we have completely passed over) they’ve been open to negociate - good news, but very good news when combined with the strength of the Australian dollar. In yet another direct shipment, we’ve secured wines from some of the Southern Rhone’s most adept grower/producers.
This estate falls under the supervision of star Rhone viticultural consultant, Phillipe Cambie, a man who seems as ubiquitous in the region's vineyards as he is consistently brilliant. Of the four different estates represented in our 2009 shipment he is the common driving force. A legendary Rhône consultant, Cambie, whom we first introduced by way of our 2007 Rhone offers, is a man 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). Cambie also consults to many of the top wines in Chateauneuf du Pape, including Pegau and Vieux Donjon. Described as 'a magician', he is said to possess an incredible ability to visualize final blends while tasting dozens of barrel samples. Combining the exceptional conditions of 2009 with Cambie's genius, all four producers have crafted some phenomenal wines.
Tasting note... Outstanding totally opaque black purple colour with deep black purple hue. The nose delivers a perfumed sniff with aromas of inky blackberry, black cherry and spice followed by some meaty blackpepper end notes. The palate is a little tight at present but nonetheless exhibits great richness, structure and potential. Ripe black raspberry, liquorice and spice flavours with some underlying meatiness and a touch of blackpepper on the back palate. Slightly chalky but perfectly balanced tannins provide the wine with good structure and a chewy texture. Excellent length with long aftertaste of dark cherry, meat and blackpepper.
Cellar 4-5 years (2015-2016)