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2009 Domaine Les Aphillanthes 1921 Rasteau
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- Cellar Drink Now - 8 years (2011-2019)
- ABV 14.5%
- Closure: Cork
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 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).
A rising star of the Southern Rhône, Daniel Boulle, together with his wife Helene are known for their top-notch fruit. Until 1999 all the production was sold to a cooperative. Now the whole production is vinified at the Domaine. A minimalist approach means quality of fruit is all important - in the winery Boulle lets the wine 'make itself'. His exceptional Grenache-heavy Rasteau is from a vineyard planted in 1921. Yields were an absurdly low 7 hectoliters per hectare. The wine pours a deep crimson red colour with a crimson red hue and offers aromas of black raspberry and dark cherry followed by some dried meat and spice notes. The palate possesses excellent weight with flavours of ripe raspberry, black cherry and spice followed by a meaty, peppery back palate. Terrific depth with a long aftertaste of black raspberry, liquorice, dried meat & blackpepper. While the tannins are not yet fully integrated the balance is appropriate to the fruit. Unquestionably the tightest wine in this Rasteau trifecta, cellaring beyond 2016 would not be an unrealistic expectation. It will benefit from a good decant if consumed early.
Decant for early drinking or cellar 5 to 8 years (2011-2019)
"...offers dense chocolaty, strawberry, and black cherry aromas and flavors, huge body, and massive concentration, yet a freshness and elegance that belie the size and mass of this powerhouse Grenache. Deep, chewy, and dense, with its tannins largely concealed by a cascade of fruit and glycerin, it should drink well for a decade or more. Bravo! I have been following this estate for a decade and except for a few hiccups in 2002 and 2003, it has consistently turned out fine wines. Moreover, since Philippe Cambie was brought in as the consulting oenologist, it has become even more reliable. Drink 2010-2020
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #191, Oct 2010.