When I was growing up in this industry, I was taught there was only 5 nobble grape varieties—Chardonnay & Riesling for whites AND Syrah, Cabernet/Merlot & Pinot Noir for reds. That was the inspiration for this tasting. 3 “noble” reds….each epitomizing “classical” & each being a standout for their appellation. Yes, these are benchmarks for others to be measured by….another set of stellar example of what “good” wines can be. Just another really good opportunity to learn!
“Along the steep, narrow valley that traces the northern Rhône, the appellation of Saint-Joseph takes its place among the great wines of France, and Domaine Faury is one of the region’s most artisanal producers. The steep slopes of the northern Rhône present a challenging terrain where farming is only feasible through terracing. On these terraced slopes, the Faurys’ vines take full advantage of the southern and southeastern sun exposure, benefitting from optimum ripening. A combination of the predominately granitic soil, partial de-stemming (in about 70% of the grapes), soft crushing of the grapes with a pneumatic press, and temperature controlled fermentation offer a liveliness and freshness that one does not often find in wines from the northern Rhône. There’s a real attention to detail here, and nothing is done in haste. Every method used encourages the grape towards greatness with the ultimate respect for its fragility. Pigeage, the punching of the cap, is not carried out with tools, but gently by foot – not just poetic but also pragmatic. Unlike many other vignerons in the region, the Faurys have a strong aversion to new oak. Though the reds definitely see time in barrels, there is a rotation between new and old alike, along with a variety of sizes, ranging from the smaller barriques to the larger 600-liter demi-muids. Unfined and only lightly filtered before bottling, these wines are loaded with classic flavors and show a remarkable rustic elegance”. Classic, wonderfully captivating northern Rhone Valley Syrah–explosive, expressive Syrah perfume (of hillside grown….NOT just tooty fruity, varietally correct)….masculine, sultry, musky, floral, peppery, gamey….done without a heavy hand. Gorgeous is a good word here.
2000 Chateau Gombaude Guillot “Pomerol”
In the heart of the Pomerol plateau, on the Right Bank of Bordeaux, are the vineyards of Château Gombaude-Guillot Though the estate is already certified organic, they are now pursuing the more stringent requirements of biodynamics. As a recently discovered jewel in the crown of Bordeaux, Pomerol does not have an official classification system, yet the standards set for the vignerons here are high. The château’s vineyards are comprised of glacial gravel deposits and clay, and vineyard work is focused around soil health, low yields, and maximizing ripeness. Cover crops are planted between vineyard rows to encourage microbiological activity in the soil. No chemical or synthetic herbicides or fungicides are used, and Claire, the current proprietor, is also careful not to eliminate vineyard pests entirely, citing their importance to the vineyard’s ecosystem. The vines average forty years of age and give naturally low yields. The wines of Gombaude-Guillot are classic reflections of Pomerol: rich and supple, with a deep gravel mineral structure. This vin de garde has all of the grace and finesse for which the appellation is known, without any of the highbrow pretention or price. The legendary 2000 is 85% Merlot & 15% Cabernet Franc aged in Allier oak (50% new). This 2000, eventhough from a highly lauded, ripe vintage, is done more in a style I grew up with. NO fruit bombs here! Yes, this wine is certainly more about the soil than about grape variety, winemaking or oak use. I really appreciate its finesse & more classical, sublime soil driven intricacies.
Domaine Maume’s wines are deep, profound Pinot Noir experiences. They are wines of mystery – constantly changing and evolving, both in barrel and in bottle, like the Burgundies of the past. They are bottled from barrel by gravity without any pumping, fining or filtration. The secret to Maume’s success is his rigid adherence to selection massale cuttings in his replanting of the family’s vineyards. By isolating vines with the healthiest grapes, they replant only the best. Most of their vines are quite old, too, averaging 50 years of age across all parcels. Maume does not believe in using new clones but is a strong believer in the diversity of old Pinot stock. Maume’s “En Pallud” is a particularly well-suited lieu-dit just south of the village on the slope, below the premier cru Les Corbeaux and at the same elevation and exposure as the grand crus. The Maumes have a sizeable parcel here of 65 year-old vines, produced in 2007 with NO stems & only a tiny bit of new oak. A great bottle from Maume takes you about as deep into the Burgundian soul as you can get. I was saddened to hear that this domaine recently sold to a larger company.