2009 Domaine Grand Nicolet Rasteau Vieilles Vignes

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2009 Domaine Grand Nicolet Rasteau Vieilles Vignes

Cotes du Rhone Villages, Southern Rhone, FRANCE
$19.99 Bottle
  • Cellar 2 - 8 years (2013-2019)
  • ABV 15%
  • Closure: Cork

For Rhone enthusiasts this super value should be a no brainer.
In April this year we reported that 2009 in the Southern Rhone was another bargain hunter's delight. As samples have steadily rolled in the story of a vintage continues to unfold. It's now clear that given the torrid heat of 2009, early speculation anticipating the stellar quality of reds from less well drained terroirs has proved prudent.

Secondly, searching out the small producers pays off. They embody an expanding trend of first rate growers who instead of selling their best fruit to big brand local negociants like 'Guigal', are now realising their viticultural flair justifies representation under their own labels. Thirdly, if you like Southern Rhone reds, (and given the pace at which these wines sell it's abundantly clear that most of you do), then pay particular attention to the 'Cotes du Rhone-Villages' (it's a step up from the basic Cotes du Rhone AOC).

Putting it all together you get a formula for some very shrewd buying and in 2009, Rasteau is arguably one of the first places you should be looking. Traditionally one of 19 tiny villages permitted to mention the village name on their labels (provided they respect the more restrictive yields as well as other analytical requirements at harvest), now as of 2010, Rasteau steps up the hierarchy even further, ranking with top flight appellations like Chateau Neuf du Pape, Cornas & Gigondas to name a few.

The 'Cru level' is the ultimate recognition of the collective effort of the Rasteau vignerons and makes these direct imports absolute bargains at todays prices.

The appellation's 880 hectares of vines are planted on marl and red and yellow clay soils over sandstone with rounded stones covering some sectors, which in heatwave vintages act like health insurance against hydric stress. By law, the Grenache component in the dry red blends must be 50% minimum, with Syrah and/or MourvËdre 20% minimum and other grape varieties of the appellation tolerated up to 20%.

Since inital samples arrived eight months ago, tasting and retasting these reds has revealed a texture and structure that tends towards the 'classicism' of 2007 rather than the extreme 'fruit-bomb-forwardness' that characterised many 2009s. Right now, these are powerful, tannic, brawny wines showcasing the best elements of the vintage, and wines that will put Australian 'GSM' blends back in their place as the antecedents of these Southern Rhone archetypes. In short, here is another collection to reaffirm 2009 Rhone as one of the great high points of 2009 in the Northern hemisphere. But, be warned: At the extreme bargain end, the treasure trove is fast drying up and will be over sooner than you think. This is a direct shipment - no wholesalers. Our advice is to stock up now or never (and all the more so given the gloomy predicament for the 2011 vintage in Australia).

We would prefer to be promoting the interests of Australian producers, but the quality of several international vintages has made them simply impossible to ignore. 2009 Rhone should be nothing less than compelling for anyone looking for imported red wine bargains.
Tasting note....
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. The 'Vielles Vignes' is a cuvee of 80% Grenache (sourced from 60 year old vines) and 20% Syrah (sourced from 30 year old vines). Only the Syrah component was matured in barrel so preserving the purity & freshness of the Grenache fruit.

This wine shows impressive colour given its predominately Grenache base, pouring a deep, opaque, black crimson red. Aromas of dark raspberry and dark cherry are followed by liquorice and spice. On the palate it boasts tremendous body and richness (yields were a tiny 7 hectoliters per hectare). Black raspberry, liquorice and dark cherry flavours fill the mouth followed by some meaty, earthy notes and a peppery back palate. The tannins are firmish and dry but in perfect balance to the fruit. Superb concentration and length, the raspberry, liquorice, spice and meat characteristics persisting into the aftertaste. Since our initial tasting in late 2010, the fruit is gradually evolving and will balance out in varying degrees during the coming 12-24+ months (decanting for early drinking is recommended).
The wine will continue to integrate over the next 2 to 5+ years (2016-2019)
Alc 15.0%

Other Reviews....
...inky/purple color followed by notes of creosote, camphor, melted chocolate, ripe strawberry and cherry marmalade, plums, licorice and burning embers. It is a dense, fat, chewy, full-bodied Rasteau to drink over the next 10-12 years.
90-92 points Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #191, Oct 2010.