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Rhone Valley

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Alain Jaume - Haut de Brun - Cotes du Rhone 2017 (1x75cl)

Established in the northern part of Chateauneuf du Pape, the Jaume family has been dedicated to the art of wine growing since 1826. The family still runs the company today – the eponymous Alain Jaume is still very much involved in the business, but his two sons Christophe (winemaking) and Sebastian (sales and marketing) are now in day to day command.

The cellars are located in Orange, just up the road from Chateauneuf du Pape. All the family’s wines are impressive, balancing sweet fruit with classic southern Rhone warmth and spice. As each vintage is so different from the last, they are constantly evolving their growing techniques to accommodate the ever-changing behaviour of the vines, grapes and terroir. Organic viticulture is in place in two of their vineyards, but across the board the health of the vines is paramount. Yields are low to keep the quality high, and their age-worthy reds capture the power and age-worthiness of the Rhone perfectly.

"This venerable profession is our legacy, but above all it is our passion, requiring discipline, perseverance and a respect for nature and the challenges she presents us with. Every vintage is different from the last and we must skillfully adapt our growing techniques to the ever-changing behaviour of the vines, the grapes and the terroir." 

This wine is a blend of the following: Grenache Noir, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre.

To see an information sheet and tasting note for this wine (this sheet describes the previous vintage - 2017 sheet expected soon, but it's hard to see how it would alter...), please click on the blue link below.

Alain Jaume "Haut de Brun" Cotes du Rhone 2016 - fiche technique

ABV = 13.0%.

£12.10

Cellier des Dauphins Reserve Cotes du Rhone 2018 (1x75cl)

** ONLY AVAILABLE FROM EXEL WINES! NOTE THAT THE DAUPHINS COTES DU RHONE CURRENTLY BEING BADGED BY TESCO AND ASDA AS THE 'RESERVE' ON THEIR WEBSITES IS CATEGORICALLY *NOT* THIS WINE/THE DWWA AWARD WINNER (this, we have confirmed with the producer). INDEED, YOU WILL NOTE THAT THE WORD 'RESERVE' DOES NOT APPEAR ON THEIR LABEL... **

Awarded a Platinum medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Cellier des Dauphins was established in 1967 by the Union des Vignerons des Côtes du Rhône. Rather than being a producer in its own right, it encompasses a major co-operative network of grape-growers and winemakers throughout the southern Rhône valley. The Cellier des Dauphins vineyards lie in the Rhône Valley, the foothills of the southern Alps rising in the distance. In these terroirs, sun-drenched vines swaying in the southern breeze, grow the renowned grape varieties that have made the Côtes du Rhône famous: Syrah, Grenache, Viognier and many other regional grapes.

The network comprises over 2,500 families and 12,500 hectares of production land across 20 of the main Southern Rhône appellations, among them Plan de Dieu, Puyméras and Valréas. Exceptional terroirs produce the most illustrious crus: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras, Vinsobres and Cairanne.

Such diversity of both grape varieties and terroirs enables the Cellier's winemakers to produce aromatic blended wines of great complexity, of which this Côtes du Rhône rouge is a standout example.

For greater detail on this wine, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the team at Cellier des Dauphins.

Cellier Des Dauphins Reserve Côtes du Rhône 2018 - fiche technique

80% Grenache, 20% Syrah.

This wine displays a deep red hue with ruby tints and notes of sun-ripened black fruit on the nose. The palate offers a velvety texture and spicy notes underpinned by ripe black fruit, blackcurrants and black cherries. A more modern take on the traditional Côtes du Rhône style, this wine combines structure, freshness and smooth tannins. It has a seductively elegant, intense and long-lingering finish.

or, as the DWWA19 panel put it:

"This is delicious! Very classy and appealing aromas of flowers, garrigue, spice and forest floor. On the palate sweet vanilla oak marries into the charming and svelte herbal, red and blue fruit mix. It's full of flavour, super supple, super drinkable and authentic. Bouquet, taste, finish: all are magnificent!".

ABV = 13.5%.

£9.95

Chante Cigale Chateauneuf Du Pape 2016 (1x75cl)

Domaine Chante Cigale is one of the most important family estates of Chateauneuf du Pape. Alexandre Favier is now carefully running the winery with respect to his family's winemaking heritage. It is is situated on the left bank of the Rhône, between Orange and Sorgues, on a variety of soils which contain a high proportion of ‘galets.’ These are the large stones of Châteauneuf-du-Pape which heat up during the day and release their heat at night, allowing the grapes to achieve maximum ripeness. The estate stretches over more than 40 hectares. This land is divided into 45 parcels, scattered all over this exceptional terroir. The diversity of its soils and grape varieties allow for the creation of unique and exceptional wines. Alexandre Favier and his team take good care of every step during the wine's production themselves, respecting the spirit of the Domaine.

The vines used to create this wine are around 60 years old. A sympathetic vinification is carried-out, which is respectful to the entire grape to preserve its fruit and minerality, the identity of the  vineyard and a deeply rooted terroir. This is a hands-off style of vinification in which every move counts and it is carried out with precision, respect and passion. Firstly fermentation lasts about five days. The wine is then allowed to macerate for between 21 - 24 days. Malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur naturally.  This wine was then aged in their cellar for approximately 24 months in a combination of vats (70%) and burgundian pieces / casks (30%) before the final step of the blending: this crucial and fascinating moment will reveal the entire complexity of this great “terroir”.

Deep ruby in colour with a wonderful nose of spice and dark fruits this is a real winter warmer. The palate is rich and ripe with layers of fruit and spice supported by fine tannins. Some of our suggestions for matching food to this wine are: warm cabbage salad with roquefort and peppered bacon, roast leg of lamb with mustard and red wine sauce or spiced venison steaks with red-cabbage confit and red-wine sauce.

£27.80

Chante Cigale Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve Des Oliviers 2017 (1 x 75cl)

Domaine Chante Cigale is situated on the left bank of the Rhône, between Orange and Sorgues, on a variety of soils which contain a high proportion of galets. These are the large stones of Châteauneuf-du-Pape which heat up during the day and release their heat at night, allowing the grapes to achieve maximum ripeness.

This red is powerful, with defined fruit characters and supple tannins. Since taking over the running of the estate from his father over ten years ago, Alexandre Favier has transformed the quality of the wines, which now rank amongst the very best of the appellation.

Fermentation takes 3 weeks with strict temperature control at a maximum of 30ºC to ensure that all the freshness of the red fruits is preserved. Pumping-over takes place twice a day during the first 2 weeks and once a day for the final week to keep some elegance in the wine. Ageing on the lees is done in barrel.

60% Grenache, 40% Syrah.

The Grenache character predominates on the nose with plenty of raspberry fruit. A succulent attack is balanced by fine tannins and good acidity. The finish is marked by spice and blackcurrant. This is a very versatile wine due to its fine tannins and fresh fruitiness. Try it with chicken in mushroom or red wine sauce, or with a barbeque.

ABV = 15.0%.

£24.05

Chateau De Vaudieu Closerie De Vaudieu Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 2015 (1x75cl)

The name Vaudieu originated from 'Vallée de Dieu' (Valley of God), a reference to the beauty of the area. The Château is a splendid 18th century property, once owned by the négociant Gabriel Meffre, and now run by his grandson, Laurent Bréchet who has transformed the estate through substantial investment and an obsession with quality. This is now starting to bear fruit and will yield even higher dividends in the years to come. As at Vaudieu in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Laurent Bréchet has extended his commitment to quality to Domaine des Bosquets, his 25 hectares of vineyards in the Gigondas appellation, at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains. Laurent has identified three different areas, which add to the potential for different ripeness levels and fruit characters.

Situated northeast of the town, the vineyards surround those of Château Rayas. Spread over 70 hectares the soils vary greatly, from sand to quartz (galets) and clay/limestone outcrops. This diversity of soil and exposure adds complexity to the blend, with the fruit from the sandier soils lending aromatic elegance and that from the galets giving power and intensity. The vines are over 65 years in age and the fruit gains incredible levels of concentration as a result.

2015 was characterised by a long and hot summer, which brought harvest forward and boosted high alcohol levels in the grapes. Harvest took place between 8th - 28th September and the grapes were in excellent health, with well ripened stems and tannins, set to produce rich and powerful wines.

The fruit was hand-picked, sorted, destemmed and crushed before fermentation at 25°C in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Fermentation lasted approximately 30 days, with regular pump-overs made daily. Ageing took place in stainless steel tanks to retain the maximum freshness of fruit and lasted 12 months before release.

71% Grenache/Garnacha, 29% Syrah/Shiraz.

Deep ruby red in colour, with a black cherry core. This wine has lively berry fruits on the nose, with a touch of liquorice and a hint of black pepper. On the palate, it is full-bodied and the ripe tannins gently support the cherry, cassis and herb character on the finish.

ABV = 14.0%.

£21.05

Châteauneuf du Pape Chaupin, Domaine de la Janasse 2013 (1x 75cl)

Good ruby red colour. Ripe, serious aromas of currant, chocolate, liquorice and Provençal herbs. Fat and dense but fresh and stylish, with a lively mineral quality and solid ripe acidity. Finishes with very smooth tannins.

£49.10

Clos Du Joncuas Gigondas 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2017 edition tasting/review (by John Livingstone-Learmonth) of the excellent 2015 Southern Rhône vintage  (see blue link below).

Clos Du Joncuas Gigondas 2015 - May 2017 Decanter review

Clos du Joncuas is run by Ferdinand Chastan and his son Dany. There are 29 hectares in total of mainly old vines and the estate is run strictly along organic lines having achieved organic status in 1989. 

This wine is made traditionally in cement tanks, with vinification temperatures of between 30°Cand 33°C. Fermentation takes place naturally with only the indigenous yeast of each grape berry, which expresses the genuine and deep flavors of this land. This helps to protect the wine's unique flavours. There is a long maceration of 25 to 30 days, and the wine is made using pumping over. When the wine is completed, two extractions are done to clarify the wine, without fining or filtration. It then spends 12 months in oak barrels, and bottled without fining or filtering.

This full-bodied red is 80% Grenache, 12% Mourvedre, 8% Cinsault.

It has a deep and sustained purple colour, deploys intense flavours of red and black fruits in his youth, evolving towards more spicy and woody notes, when it reaches full maturity. It is a full and balanced warm wine. Long and velvety on the palate. This wine has the capacity to age for between 8 and 12 years.

ABV = 15.0%.

 

£24.20

Crozes-Hermitage Cuvee Alberic Bouvet, Domaine Gilles Robin 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2018 en primeur tasting of the Northern Rhône (see blue link below).

Crozes-Hermitage Cuvee Alberic Bouvet, Domaine Gilles Robin 2017 - November 2018 Decanter review

With a family history of winegrowing spanning four generations, Gilles Robin started in the wine business the way many in the Rhône do: His family sold grapes to the local cooperative. Nestled against the hillsides of Hermitage and St. Joseph in the appellation of Crozes–Hermitage, the estate was first planted in the late 1940s by Gilles’ grandparents, and it is this fruit that makes up his Cuvée Alberic Bouvet, named for his grandfather. This cuvée is aged in oak barrels, of which 20% are new. The Cuvée Papillon is the product of vines Gilles planted in 1996; it is aged entirely in tank to preserve its fresh and delicate fruit. The estate now totals 37 acres, including two-and-ahalf planted with white varietals and a small parcel of Syrah in St Joseph. His vines are planted in the stony and sandy La Terrace de Chassis district. An understated, meticulous winemaker, Gilles farms his plots organically, believing this is the best way to honestly give voice to the terroir. Gilles Robin has truly elevated his family estate, producing wines that are powerful, elegant and precise ... excellent representations of Crozes–Hermitage.

The vineyard has been organic since 2009.

This wine draws upon the domaine's oldest Syrah vines, approximately 50 years in age, and from its main slopes/terroirs (Rochas, Monico, Terres Rouges). The assemblage/mix of grapes from different zones seeks to draw a balance between their Syrahs, to blend tannins with red fruits and black fruits, each of the zones lending one of these characteristics more than others. It is this targeted precison-blending that is the hallmark of the Albéric Bouvet.

Grapes are picked by hand with selection of grapes then made using optical apparatus. Must is pumped over (remontage) and pushed down (pigeage) to optimise flavour/tannin/extraction without damage. Fermentation lasts some 30 days and is conducted in stainless steel before an ageing/elevage in 225-litre Burgundy pieces and larger demi-muids; 20% of these are new.

Some 23,000 bottles of this cuvee are made each vintage. It was first made in 1996.

100% Syrah.

Vibrant aromas of plum with great texture and balance between front-, mid- and end-palates. Fresh but rich with a great sustain of flavour on the finish. Black fruits (blackcurrants, blueberries), jammy red fruits, leather and tobacco notes are all to be found.

This is a wine that will profit from keeping, its optimum window being 5-10 years from vintage, although it is now entering a window of excellent drinkability.

ABV = 14.0%.

£22.25

Domaine Albert Belle Crozes-Hermitage Rouge Les Pierrelles 2016 (1x75cl)

This family estate in the Northern Rhône has forged an enviable reputation for supple, generous wines. Previously a member of the local co-op, the Belle family have rapidly made a name for themselves as a producer to watch. The domaine extends to 19 hectares in 4 communes and two appellations, Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage. Low yields in the vineyards (30-35 hl/ha) and, of course, the wonderful climate helps produce grapes of exceptional quality. The red wines are produced traditionally using whole bunches of grapes and extended maceration. They are then matured in oak for between 12 and 18 months with 20 to 25% new barrels each year.

This wine is made traditionally in closed temperature-controlled vats, the grapes are totally de-stemmed, there is daily pumping over and punching down, followed by a final warm maceration and a  three-week fermentation with indigenous yeast. It is aged entirely in oak barrels for 14 months, divided equally between old barrels of two to five years of age.

This wine is made using 100% Syrah.

The Domain Albert Belle Crozes-Hermitage "Les Pierrelles" is  a beautiful deep red colour, with flashes of purple. As always, the nose is full and voluble. Intense red fruit complete the sweeter spice and candy notes. The boiled sweet notes then setting off the blackcurrant syrup and the raspberry. This wine is charming, flattering and generous. It is an invitation to immediate pleasure. The palate does not disappoint, it is soft and voluptuous. The tannins are silky. The finish is long, and well balanced, with no heaviness.

This Les Pierrelles cuvée is a promise of pleasure. It goes well with all red meat dishes, casseroles and roasts, and also with poultry and summer aperitifs.

ABV = 13.5%.

£18.10

Domaine Brusset Cotes Du Rhone Laurent B 2018 (1x75cl)

This family-owned estate was established in 1947 and the Brusset family has managed to combine the savoir-faire of traditional winemaking with the new techniques introduced by each generation. The founder, André Brusset (1910-1999), his son Daniel, and his grand-son Laurent: three wine-growers and wine-makers with a variety of experiences have all contributed to the distinctive character of the Domaine Brusset, where three generations have complimented each other to achieve the best results. The Domaine Brusset is located in the heart of the southern Côtes-du-Rhône valley vineyards, at Cairanne. With a total of 70 hectares, their vineyards extend over 5 prestigious appellations : Gigondas, Cairanne, Rasteau, Côtes-du-Rhône and Ventoux.

Grenache 60%, Syrah 20%, Mourvedre 10%, Carignan 10%.

To see Brusset's information sheet - including full vineyard and winemaking detail - for this wine please click on the blue link below.

Domaine Brusset Cotes Du Rhone - fiche technique

This wine not only looks like raspberries in the glass, but it shows them on the nose as well. On the palate it is supple, elegant and harmonious, and the aromatics give it a lift which can be very moreish!

ABV = 13.0%.

£11.80

Domaine Brusset, Cairanne (Cotes du Rhone Villages), Les Travers 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their 2017 en primeur tastings of late 2018 (see blue link below).

Domaine Brusset, Cairanne (Cotes Du Rhone Villages), Les Travers 2017 - Decanter November 2018 review

On this family-owned estate, established in 1947, the Brusset family has managed to combine the savoir-faire of traditional winemaking with the new techniques introduced by each generation. The founder, André Brusset (1910-1999), his son Daniel, and his grand-son Laurent : three wine-growers and wine-makers with a variety of experiences have all contributed to the distinctive character of the Domaine Brusset, where three complementary generations together have achieved the best results. Domaine Brusset is located in the heart of the southern Côtes-du-Rhône valley vineyards, at Cairanne.

This wine is made using traditional methods. The grapes are destalked and each grape variety is vinifed separately. Fermentation is carried out in vats for 20 days. The wine is allowed to mature for 10 months, with 70 % in vats and 30 % in 3 or 4 year-old barrels.

Grenache 60%, Syrah 20%, Mourvedre 15%, Cinsault 5%.

To see an information sheet and tasting note for this wine that has been written by the team at Domaine Brusset, please click on the blue link below.

Domaine Brusset Cairanne 'Les Travers' - fiche technique

£16.05

Domaine Brusset, Gigondas, Les Hauts de Montmirail 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded a Platinum & Best in Show medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

On this family-owned estate, established in 1947, the Brusset family has managed to combine the savoir-faire of traditional winemaking with the new techniques introduced by each generation. The founder, André Brusset (1910-1999), his son Daniel, and his grand-son Laurent: three wine-growers and wine-makers with a variety of experiences have all contributed to the distinctive character of the Domaine Brusset, where three generations have complimented each other to achieve the best results. The Domaine Brusset is located in the heart of the southern Côtes-du-Rhône valley vineyards, at Cairanne. With a total of 70 hectares, their vineyards extend over 5 prestigious appellations : Gigondas, Cairanne, Rasteau, Côtes-du-Rhône and Ventoux.

50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre.

To see Brusset's information sheet - including full vineyard and winemaking detail - for this wine please click on the blue link below.

Domaine Brusset, Gigondas, Les Hauts De Montmirail 2017 - fiche technique

A very deep, dark crimson. A rich, fruity, spicy and complex aroma. Very round and powerfull, long-lasting flavour. Consistant tannins, pleasantly woody with a deeper flavour of blackberry and chocolate.

or, as the DWWA19 panel put it:

"This complex yet seductive red has headily floral, sweet-fruited scents and lush, soft-textured, stony, perfumed flavours. Plum, strawberry and damson rarely attain this level of fragrant charm, and there's an almost sour-fresh note of ripe acidity, too".

ABV = 13.5%.

£32.50

Domaine Brusset, Gigondas, Tradition Le Grand Montmirail 2018 (1x75cl)

This family owned estate was established in 1947 and the Brusset family has managed to combine the savoir-faire of traditional winemaking with the new techniques introduced by each generation. The founder, André Brusset (1910-1999), his son Daniel, and his grand-son Laurent: three wine-growers and wine-makers with a variety of experiences have all contributed to the distinctive character of the Domaine Brusset, where three generations have complimented each other to achieve the best results. The Domaine Brusset is located in the heart of the southern Côtes-du-Rhône valley vineyards, at Cairanne. With a total of 70 hectares, their vineyards extend over 5 prestigious appellations : Gigondas, Cairanne, Rasteau, Côtes-du-Rhône and Ventoux.

The vineyards for this wine are on well established, stony terraced, south-facing vineyards.

The grapes are hand-picked before being strictly selected according to a variety of ripeness checks. They are then crushed and destalked. No yeast is added and fermentation takes place invats for 21 days with twice daily pigeages or punching down of the cap of skins carried out twice daily.  The wine is then matured - 60 % in vats and 40 % in oak barrels or demi-muids that are between 2 and 4 years old. 

This wine is a blend of Grenache 70%, Syrah 10%, Mourvedre 10%, Cinsault 10%.

To see a concise and informative fiche technique / tasting note for this wine, please click on the blue link below.

Domaine Brusset, Gigondas, Tradition Le Grand Montmirail - fiche technique

ABV = 13.5%.

£22.60

Domaine Combier Crozes Hermitage Rouge 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their November 2018 tastings of en primeur offerings from the 2017 vintage (see blue link below).

Domaine Combier Crozes Hermitage Rouge 2017 - July 2018 Decanter review

Maurice Combier left the Ardèche department in 1962 and bought property in Pont de l'Isère in the Drôme department to the east. At that time, the nearby Valence area was France's top fruit hub, so Maurice continued his father Camille's tradition of growing fruit. The apricots and peaches were sold to a local fruit cooperative and the grapes to the cooperative in Tain l'Hermitage a few kilometers north.

During the 1970's, Maurice began working all of his land organically, rather than spraying his plants with dangerous chemicals and pushing production with synthetic fertilizers. As this was previously unheard of in Crozes-Hermitage (and for that matter, just about all of Europe), he became known locally as Maurice le Fou (Crazy Maurice). But before long, the orchards and vineyards had achieved a balance and were producing even more delicious fruit. Other producers in the area soon followed Maurice's lead. To his delight, in 1989 Maurice's first son Laurent came into the fold and continued selling their fruit. Laurent concurrently studied viticulture and agriculture in Orange and did apprenticeships at various wine domaines further south, including stints in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Domaine d'Ott in Provence. Maurice and Laurent decided to leave the cooperative the next year and set off on their own. They established their own fruit brand called Combier, whose organic peaches and apricots are still available throughout much of France.

They also began bottling their own wine from vineyards surrounding the house. Slowly Laurent started expanding the cellar, finally constructing an underground chai where all his vinification and aging now takes place. The domaine now comprises 20 hectares of vines, of which 90% are red. There are many different vineyard plots, all vinified differently and all producing wines of different personalities. In the heart of the Crozes-Hermitage appellation, the Syrah vines are planted on a parent rock close to the surface and granite soils offering good drainage. On the southern side vines are planted on chalky-limestone soils covered with smooth pebbles.

The Syrah fruit for the Domaine Combier cuvée comes from a number of different sites in and around Pont de l'Isère. The soils of these parcels are chalky-clay with pebbles on the southern side of the estate and loessic and granite slopes on the northern side. The grapes are completely destemmed, then spend a 25-day fermentation period in stainless steel vats with twice-daily pump overs. All the wine goes into barrels that have previously seen 2 or 3 wines. Malolactic takes place in oak, and the wine rests in cask for 12 months. It is only then that the wine is blended, and then minimally sulphured and filtered ever so lightly.

100% Syrah.

It’s a deep ruby color with concentrated raspberry, pepper and violet aromas. Medium-to-full body with a supple texture and good acidic structure. Lovely pure Syrah flavors from the Northern Rhône.

ABV = 13.5%.

£24.15

Domaine Combier Crozes-Hermitage, Cuvee Laurent 2018

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 tastings of en primeur offerings from the 2018 vintage (see blue link below).

Domaine Combier Crozes Hermitage Cuvee Laurent 2018 - November 2018 Decanter review

Maurice Combier left the Ardèche department in 1962 and bought property in Pont de l'Isère in the Drôme department to the east. At that time, the nearby Valence area was France's top fruit hub, so Maurice continued his father Camille's tradition of growing fruit. The apricots and peaches were sold to a local fruit cooperative and the grapes to the cooperative in Tain l'Hermitage a few kilometers north.

During the 1970's, Maurice began working all of his land organically, rather than spraying his plants with dangerous chemicals and pushing production with synthetic fertilizers. As this was previously unheard of in Crozes-Hermitage (and for that matter, just about all of Europe), he became known locally as Maurice le Fou (Crazy Maurice). But before long, the orchards and vineyards had achieved a balance and were producing even more delicious fruit. Other producers in the area soon followed Maurice's lead. To his delight, in 1989 Maurice's first son Laurent came into the fold and continued selling their fruit. Laurent concurrently studied viticulture and agriculture in Orange and did apprenticeships at various wine domaines further south, including stints in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Domaine d'Ott in Provence. Maurice and Laurent decided to leave the cooperative the next year and set off on their own. They established their own fruit brand called Combier, whose organic peaches and apricots are still available throughout much of France.

They also began bottling their own wine from vineyards surrounding the house. Slowly Laurent started expanding the cellar, finally constructing an underground chai where all his vinification and aging now takes place. The domaine now comprises 20 hectares of vines, of which 90% are red. There are many different vineyard plots, all vinified differently and all producing wines of different personalities. In the heart of the Crozes-Hermitage appellation, the Syrah vines are planted on a parent rock close to the surface and granite soils offering good drainage. On the southern side vines are planted on chalky-limestone soils covered with smooth pebbles.

The Cuvée Laurent is a new (1999!) addition to the range from Laurent Combier and exhibits all the class and finesse that we have come to expect from this extremely talented winemaker and charming man. Known among our salespeople as the “Purple Label”, this 100% Syrah is designed to be a food-friendly introduction to the peppery Syrah of Crozes-Hermitage. The destemmed grapes see a 20-day fermentation in concrete vats, undergoing twice-daily punchdowns and pumpovers. The wine then goes into an œuf (egg) where it will spend 8-10 months. Made from cement and holding 6 hl of wine (600 liters or about 2.5 barrels), eggs provide the benefits of cement tanks (cooler temperatures without the expenditure of electricity), yet for much smaller lots. Bright red berry/raspberry-scented fruit with plenty of crushed black pepper notes. Medium body with bright acidity. Good versatile, everyday Crozes.

Almost opaque with a purple hue, this is classic Syrah from the Northern Rhône. Rich and spicy on the nose with an underlying savoury quality, the palate is rich and spicy too, with ripe approachable tannins. The finish is long, smooth and velvety.

ABV = 13.5%.

£19.75
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