Southern Rhône

The North is the realm of Syrah, but in the South it is really all about Grenache, even if this can be helped by up to twelve other varieties in Châteauneuf (and is routinely blended with Syrah and Mourvèdre there and in the other appellations).

If the Northern Rhône produced wines with power and longevity in 2015, and rather more streamlined elegance 2016s, it seems to be the opposite in the south. Here the 2016s have the power and ultimate ripeness - but remain, at least for the wines we have chosen, fresh and svelte despite the musculature. There is a really lovely balance and some serious depth of flavour which 'floats' on a fresh minerality. As Jeb Dunnuck puts it (JebDunnuck.com) The 2016s are on another level...The wines are beautifully concentrated and structured – on par with 2010 – yet have a more open, sexy, voluptuous style due to the larger yields. The tannin quality is beautiful, the wines have notable freshness and purity, their alcohol is integrated, and quality is incredibly high across all the regions. In fact, the biggest surprise was the consistency of the vintage, which is even more homogenous than 2015. This is truly an extraordinary vintage.

We have selected great Châteauneufs from great estates (Mordorée, Royer) which remain quite reasonably-priced. Nevertheless, as Richard Hemming says in his introduction to 'other' southern reds on JancisRobinson.com, 'the best wines of Gigondas, Vacqueyras and the other villages of Grenache-land can be bought for a much more satisfying QPR' - so these are well worth looking at as well.


Reviews

'it appears that the early hype is justified (for the 2016 southern reds). These are wines that combine immense power (and sometimes alcohol levels) with elegance, perhaps most similar to the reds from 2010 or 1990'
Joe Czerwinski www.robertparker.com

'The 2016s (in the south) are on another level.... This is truly an extraordinary vintage'
Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com


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Domaine de la Mordorée

Started in 1986 by the Delorme family, Domaine de la Mordorée has become one of the top estates in the Rhône, with arguably the most consistent quality. The word 'Mordorée', literally 'bronze' or 'golden-brown' is one of the many poetic names for a woodcock, the symbol of the domaine. Other such names include the cuvée names - 'La Belle Voyageuse' (the beautiful traveller), and 'La Dame Rousse' (the russet lady). Founding winemaker Christophe Delorme's objective was to be unintrusive and maintain total respect for his terroir and the fruit it produces, striving to achieve a perfect balance between concentration, terroir and balance.

The domaine consists of 55 Hectares, on 38 different parcels, providing a rich, wide range of soils and micro-climates. The whole domaine has been certified organic since 2007.

Following Christophe's untimely death in 2015, his wife and daughter, Madeleine and Ambre, have taken on the running of the domaine, ably assisted by Rémy Chauvet, who was the cellarmaster under Christophe. As Jeb Dunnuck has put it in the Wine Advocate, 'the estate is obviously still in incredibly capable hands'.

2016 LIRAC La Dame Rousse Domaine de la Mordorée

2016 LIRAC La Dame Rousse Domaine de la Mordorée

75cl bottles, case of 12

Fabulous nose - rich and open fruit. Palate is dry and fresh, full of deep concentrated fruit and a taut dry structure, which while present is very much wrapped and softened by supple weight. DeepFabulous nose - rich and open fruit. Palate is dry and fresh, full of deep concentrated fruit and a taut dry structure, which while present is very much wrapped and softened by supple weight. Deep black fruit flavours. Drinking range: 2018 - 2027L&S(Jan 2018)

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2016 LIRAC Rouge Cuvée de la Reine des Bois Domaine de la Mordorée

2016 LIRAC Rouge Cuvée de la Reine des Bois Domaine de la Mordorée

75cl bottles, case of 12

Some of this is aged in one to three-year-old barrels. Again this is a very black fruit expression, and only the subtlest notes of wood. Silky fine tannins are present, but not at all aggressive. TheSome of this is aged in one to three-year-old barrels. Again this is a very black fruit expression, and only the subtlest notes of wood. Silky fine tannins are present, but not at all aggressive. The matter is all here - it's really gorgeous but could do with a year to open up a little, and will age effortlessly. Drinking range: 2019 - 2030L&S(Jan 2018)

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2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE La Dame Voyageuse Domaine de la Mordorée

2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE La Dame Voyageuse Domaine de la Mordorée

75cl bottles, case of 6

Very Grenache expression; quite rich and full of fine tannins giving a volume and feeling of thickness on the palate. The fruit develops nicely and it never feels heavy. Gorgeous richness and length.Very Grenache expression; quite rich and full of fine tannins giving a volume and feeling of thickness on the palate. The fruit develops nicely and it never feels heavy. Gorgeous richness and length. A cuvée designed to be delicious immediately. Drinking range: 2018 - 2025L&S(Jan 2018)

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2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Cuvée de la Reine des Bois Domaine de la Mordorée

2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Cuvée de la Reine des Bois Domaine de la Mordorée

75cl bottles, wood case of 6

Very dark. Rich fruit nose with a mineral element. Very rich, it has a saline freshness from the start which really drives the palate, so that it has lots of volume and weight, but is not at allVery dark. Rich fruit nose with a mineral element. Very rich, it has a saline freshness from the start which really drives the palate, so that it has lots of volume and weight, but is not at all heavy. The black fruit (ripe blackberry and blueberry) fills every corner with energy and flavour. The tannins build slowly, and the finish shows them, fine and silky, but definitely firming, but it's the fruit and flavour and concentration that is astonishing. Bravo! Drinking range: 2020 - 2035L&S(Jan 2018)

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2016 LIRAC Rouge Cuvée de la Reine des Bois Domaine de la Mordorée

2016 LIRAC Rouge Cuvée de la Reine des Bois Domaine de la Mordorée

Magnums, wood case of 1

Some of this is aged in one to three-year-old barrels. Again this is a very black fruit expression, and only the subtlest notes of wood. Silky fine tannins are present, but not at all aggressive. TheSome of this is aged in one to three-year-old barrels. Again this is a very black fruit expression, and only the subtlest notes of wood. Silky fine tannins are present, but not at all aggressive. The matter is all here - it's really gorgeous but could do with a year to open up a little, and will age effortlessly. Drinking range: 2019 - 2030L&S(Jan 2018)

In Bond

2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Cuvée de la Reine des Bois Domaine de la Mordorée

2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Cuvée de la Reine des Bois Domaine de la Mordorée

Magnums, wood case of 1

Very dark. Rich fruit nose with a mineral element. Very rich, it has a saline freshness from the start which really drives the palate, so that it has lots of volume and weight, but is not at allVery dark. Rich fruit nose with a mineral element. Very rich, it has a saline freshness from the start which really drives the palate, so that it has lots of volume and weight, but is not at all heavy. The black fruit (ripe blackberry and blueberry) fills every corner with energy and flavour. The tannins build slowly, and the finish shows them, fine and silky, but definitely firming, but it's the fruit and flavour and concentration that is astonishing. Bravo! Drinking range: 2020 - 2035L&S(Jan 2018)

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Domaine Jean Royer

Jean-Marie Royer inherited his vines in 1985, and set about improving the grape varietal mix and the vinification from then. Since more than half of the domaine is in unclassified ('Vin de Table') or 'Côtes du Rhône, he has developed a marque 'Le Petit Roy' sold as Vin de Table' for everything that does not make it into the Châteaneuf cuvées. The Petit Roy has been a big hit in the shops.

His Châteauneufs are just gorgeous, and in the context of some of the Parkerised dottiness going on, offer refreshingly fantastic value for money. He has undoubtedly been much helped his close friend the star oenologist Philippe Cambié, who he went to school with and also played rugby with for many years. Cambié is more famous for a full-on rather extracted style, but Jean-Marie has imposed his own, fresher, brighter style on all his wines which are crunchy and well-defined.

2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Tradition Domaine Jean Royer

2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Tradition Domaine Jean Royer

75cl bottles, case of 12

85% Grenache, 5% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, with 5% Cinsault from La Crau. Deep colour. Both rich and restrained, a subtle dry fruit with a truffly, garrigue element. Wild berries and summer hedgerow.85% Grenache, 5% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, with 5% Cinsault from La Crau. Deep colour. Both rich and restrained, a subtle dry fruit with a truffly, garrigue element. Wild berries and summer hedgerow. Fresh and amazingly long. As Jean-Marie says, he is always looking for a drinkable balance, and that is here in spades. Drinking range: 2018 - 2035L&S(Jan 2018)

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2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Prestige Domaine Jean Royer

2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Prestige Domaine Jean Royer

75cl bottles, case of 12

95% Grenache and 5% Mourvèdre. Richer than the Tradition, with a suave supple feel. Denser fruit and more body. Cool and fresh despite this evident weight. Excellent again.95% Grenache and 5% Mourvèdre. Richer than the Tradition, with a suave supple feel. Denser fruit and more body. Cool and fresh despite this evident weight. Excellent again. Drinking range: 2020 - 2033L&S(Jan 2018)

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2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Les Sables de la Crau Domaine Jean Royer

2016 CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE Les Sables de la Crau Domaine Jean Royer

75cl bottles, case of 6

Really remarkable: a rich nose of deep fruit and palate that is full of griotte cherry and damson, a very dark expression. The darkest of fruit flavours but in a gloriously round and voluptuous way -Really remarkable: a rich nose of deep fruit and palate that is full of griotte cherry and damson, a very dark expression. The darkest of fruit flavours but in a gloriously round and voluptuous way - just enough grip, and the juicy acidity makes it mouth-watering and hard not to swallow. Sweet and balanced fruit remains long after. There's a bit more wood here than on the other cuvées, but the shape and feel make it definitely one of Jean-Marie's wines - not too much massiveness, this remains elegant and all about seamless length. Drinking range: 2020 - 2035L&S(Jan 2018)

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Domaine la Bouïssière

Thierry and Gilles Faravel's Domaine la Bouïssière in Gigondas is exceptional in many ways, but perhaps apart from the personality of Thierry himself, it is the site of the vineyard, high up under the 'Dentelles de Montmirail' which makes the defining difference.

In contrast to the vines being baked on the plains of stones at the foot of the hill, the Bouïssière vines benefit from cooling air at night falling from the high peaks, and the wines retain a freshness and subtle persistence which is very different to the sometimes bludgeoning broadness and alcoholic heat of the wines on the plain.

Gilles and Thierry Faravel employ non-interventionalist practices to make wines as naturally as possible, resulting in wines of immense concentration and depth, with true vibrancy and the capacity to age ten to fifteen years.

They've come back to 80% whole bunch fermentation - as Thierry says, it's their form of acidity, it gives the wines more energy and tension, and stops them getting too heavy. Thierry describes the 2015s as being more massive, while the 2016s are 'more gourmand', and certainly these seem very easy to enjoy, fresh and balanced despite being quite powerful.
2016 BEAUMES DE VENISE Domaine la Bouïssière

2016 BEAUMES DE VENISE Domaine la Bouïssière

75cl bottles, case of 12

72% Grenache, 28% Syrah. Entirely made in concrete vat. Very dark - opulent and sunny. It's exposed south-west, so is the sunniest of all his vineyards. A rich Mediterranean style, but not exuberant72% Grenache, 28% Syrah. Entirely made in concrete vat. Very dark - opulent and sunny. It's exposed south-west, so is the sunniest of all his vineyards. A rich Mediterranean style, but not exuberant - it has a nice feel of energetic black fruit, and the little point of sucrosity is offset by the tannins which dry the structure a little - just enough. Drinking range: 2018 - 2025L&S(Feb 2018)

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2016 VACQUEYRAS Domaine la Bouïssière

2016 VACQUEYRAS Domaine la Bouïssière

75cl bottles, case of 12

50% Grenache, 42% Syrah, 8% Mourvèdre. Élevage in a combination of barrel, steel and concrete egg. Nice and fresh. Properly rich, but with a lift that must be coming from the high proportion of whole50% Grenache, 42% Syrah, 8% Mourvèdre. Élevage in a combination of barrel, steel and concrete egg. Nice and fresh. Properly rich, but with a lift that must be coming from the high proportion of whole bunches as well as from the elevation of the vineyard and the Syrah content. There's a lively freshness. Thierry describes how he works with infusion rather than extraction - they've lifted the pedal over the last 4-5 vintages in a bid to make this less rustic. The amount of Syrah brings a 'cooler' influence to temper the very sunny character of this vineyard. Silky supple, it has easily enough extract, but remains fresh and precise in its floral and black fruit flavours, with lovely length. Drinking range: 2019 - 2028L&S(Jan 2018)

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2016 GIGONDAS Domaine la Bouïssière

2016 GIGONDAS Domaine la Bouïssière

75cl bottles, case of 12

70% Grenache, 30% Syrah. This is made in vat and foudre. Fine and classic, deep colour and great fruit depth allied to a cool, liquid freshness which floats on the palate - all this weight of flavour70% Grenache, 30% Syrah. This is made in vat and foudre. Fine and classic, deep colour and great fruit depth allied to a cool, liquid freshness which floats on the palate - all this weight of flavour expressed so effortlessly - really lovely. Drinking range: 2019 - 2032L&S(Jan 2018)

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2015 GIGONDAS La Font de Tonin Domaine la Bouïssière

2015 GIGONDAS La Font de Tonin Domaine la Bouïssière

75cl bottles, case of 12

83% Grenache, 17% Mourvèdre, élevage in 2-5 year-old barriques. The Mourvèdre is de-stemmed. Thierry says he feels the élevage has really given this energy and made it more complete. This does that83% Grenache, 17% Mourvèdre, élevage in 2-5 year-old barriques. The Mourvèdre is de-stemmed. Thierry says he feels the élevage has really given this energy and made it more complete. This does that thing that I tend to think of as Burgundian, which is to have flavours that seem to be quite 'other' than mere fruit. It's a mineral freshness and appeal allied to a brisk energy on the palate, and it's superb. Drinking range: 2020 - 2033L&S(Jan 2018)

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Domaine Romain Roche

Romain Roche’s father Marcel had around thirty hectares of vines, and always sold his grapes to the co-operative, of which he was president. Romain wanted to make his own wine and after studying oenology in Beaune, Montpellier and Toulouse, but also with stays in the United States and Australia, has been able to choose fifteen hectares of his father’s vines to rent to start his own domaine in 2009. His signature is for powerful wines, pure, fine and balanced.

“Tout passe par la vigne” - Everything goes through the vine - This is the motto of the domain, as they adapt their vinification according to the quality of the grapes harvested. The different terroirs of the domain are adapted to each variety: white clay limestone for Syrah, red clay pebble compounds for the Grenache and Carignan. After manual harvesting and total de-stemming the grapes, the work done during the vinification accentuates all these efforts because each variety, each parcel, is vinified separately in small vats. A daily tasting assesses the evolution of the wine, and a small part of the Syrah is aged in oak to refine the tannins, rather than develop wooded flavours.

With a mix of tradtion and modernity, the fruits flavours of the Grenache, the complexity of the Carignan and the finesse of the Syrah, Romain’s wines are a true reflection of Cairanne terroir, powerful and subtle.
2016 CAIRANNE Côtes du Rhône Villages Domaine Romain Roche

2016 CAIRANNE Côtes du Rhône Villages Domaine Romain Roche

75cl bottles, case of 12

65% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 10% Carignan. Deep dark colour. All in finesse here, the Syrah bringing a cool sophistication. Big in volume, the silk velvet cushioned palate we have come to expect from65% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 10% Carignan. Deep dark colour. All in finesse here, the Syrah bringing a cool sophistication. Big in volume, the silk velvet cushioned palate we have come to expect from Romain's wines, with flavours that are deeper and darker, and it's not just big - it is fine and pure and long with real crushed black fruit and juice, the old vine Carignan giving a vitality and 'peps'. Drinking range: 2019 - 2028L&S(Feb 2018)

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2016 CAIRANNE La Bousquette Côtes du Rhône Villages Domaine Romain Roche

2016 CAIRANNE La Bousquette Côtes du Rhône Villages Domaine Romain Roche

75cl bottles, case of 6

Grenache and Carignan, from the vineyard that is over 100 years old. It's a mixed terrain, some red clay like the plain, and some of the greyer more limestone clay from higher up. The vines are allGrenache and Carignan, from the vineyard that is over 100 years old. It's a mixed terrain, some red clay like the plain, and some of the greyer more limestone clay from higher up. The vines are all mixed in together and he now co-ferments them. Rich old-vine fruit with real density and chew, this is Romain's one wine which would benefit from keeping for a year or two before starting it - and it then has a life of at least ten more years. Compact, concentrated and already complex, with huge length. Drinking range: 2020 - 2030L&S(Feb 2018)

In Bond