There's No Place Like Rhône
The landscape and villages of the Southern Rhone are ideal for vinous explorations – there are always some new wines to discover. It is a region, we at Gauntley’s have been passionate about, and investigating for over 40 years, and we still feel like there are many stones left unturned. Many more hidden gems left to find. As you will already know, we adore our Chateauneuf, the most ancient and most celebrated Cru in the Southern Rhone, and the flagbearer for the region. However, our ‘There’s No Place Like Rhône Discovery Case’ is designed to show case just a few of the 16 fantastic Crus, other than Chateauneuf-du-Pape, in the Southern Rhone. Featuring some of the regions’ finest estates, from appellations often outside of the limelight, and showcasing not only their talents but the wide range of wine-styles that exist in this sun-drenched part of France. The quantity of unique and lovingly crafted wines to be found across the Southern Rhone’s vast 44,000 hectares is immense. We hope that, like many of our other mixed cases, this inspires you to always keep exploring!
Passionate about wine and harbouring an unwavering ambition of owning his own vineyards, Gerard Constant, a successful businessman, pursued his dreams, and started his own winery in 2004 with his partner, Denise Duquesnoy. His work had taken him to many of the world’s most famous wine regions, where he had taken the opportunity to visit vineyards and eventually studied at the University of Suze-la-Rousse, with further training in Burgundy. Not coming from a wine producing family, Gerard, had been free to explore far and wide, in search of the ideal vineyard, which would enable him to produce wines of the highest possible quality. In his quest to find his vineyard, he took advice from some of France’s top winemakers in Burgundy, Alsace and the Rhone valley, and eventually fell in love with and purchased, not one, but multiple plots on the plateau and slopes of Cairanne, as well as high in the hills of Vinsobres. The wines here are full bodied and complex, with superb concentration of fruit and a stylish minerality. Cultivating organically and using no new oak, Gerard’s wines are beautifully pure and impeccably balanced, displaying uplifting freshness and vibrant acidity. Both the Cairanne and his Vinsobres retain a fabulous focus and elegance, together with a complex, rich and deep palate. All the wines throughout his range are wonderfully crafted, and a delight to drink, and his top cuvées are without a doubt some of the finest examples of Cairanne and Vinsobres today.
As part of this mixed case, we bring you Gerard’s 2017 Cairanne. Produced from a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 25% Carignan and 5% Viognier. This is wonderfully pure on the nose. Really expressive on the palate, with ripe red cherry, berry and blackberry fruits, sweet spices and liquorice. There is superb focus and definition here, with a refined balance, unctuous vibrance to the fruit and lovely length on the finish.
Marc and Mireille Besnardeau, of Domaine Les Grands Bois, took over the running of Mireille’s family estate in 1994 and are fourth generation, small family growers. Today, they cultivate 47 hectares of vines in Côtes du Rhone, CDR villages, Cairanne and Rasteau, with the help of their eldest daughter Phillipine. Since first importing from Grands Bois, back in 1990, we have witnessed the rise of Rasteau’s global reputation for wine, with Mireille and Marc part of a small selection of exemplary domaines, driving the region forward. Culminating in Rasteau being awarded full Cru status back in 2010. They have been organic, or “biologique”, since 2011 and the true magic of Marc’s wines is their finesse. Rasteau is a very sun-baked appellation, known for its big and powerful wines as well as fortified sweet wines. The sun combined with the strong current of the Mistral wind here, allows the grapes longer hang time on the vines, reaching incredibly high levels of ripeness. However, although being deep and rich, Marc’s wines are never over extracted and big for the sake of it, characterised first, by their elegance and perfume, harmonious balance, super complexity and clear expression of terroir – if anyone ever asks what the characteristics of a Rasteau are, one need look no further than these wines. Marc neither fines nor filters and fermentation is in cement vat, but ageing varies according to cuvee, with certain wines spending up to 12 months in one year old oak casks.
The 2015 ‘Cuvee Marc’ is fabulous, a perfect expression of Rasteau. A mix of 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 25% Mourvèdre. It is rich, intense, dark and loaded with deep black fruits, assorted sweet spices, coffee and a touch of oak. This is a seriously structured wine, with layers of concentrated black fruits, however, it remains harmoniously balanced and refined, with an overarching purity. After over 5 years of bottle age, this wine is starting to mellow and sing, with a rounder and more nuanced palate, but will age for many more years if you choose to cellar it. To allow this wine to open and show off its nuances, decanting a short while before drinking is a must.
Clos du Mont Olivet has been in the Sabon Family since 1932, and run today by the fantastic, brother-sister triumvirate of Thierry, David and Celine Sabon. It has been one of Chateauneuf du Pape’s top tier estates for many generations. Distinguishing themselves from their contemporaries, the wines of Mont Olivet are focussed more on elegance, than size, possessing a delightful, almost Burgundian finesse. As well as their 20+ hectares in Chateauneuf, the family also own a few hectares in the “rive droite”, due west of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, near the villages of Saint-Laurent des Arbres. Here, with a goal of ‘shining a light’ on the incredible potential of the Cru, the family craft wonderful Lirac, from the sandy and quartz stone soils. Cultivating the soils carefully and sustainably, Thierry’s aim for all of Mont Olivet’s wines, is to produce wine which captures all the warmth of the Mediterranean sun, whilst retaining an elegant balance. Their wines are always aromatic and long lived, reflecting not only the rich character of the Southern Rhône, but also the subtle and spicy personalities of the region’s native varieties.
Made from 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Cinsault, Mont Olivet’s 2018 Lirac is gorgeous. Crunchy and pure, with black cherry, red plum, raspberries engulfing the palate, accompanied by wild herbs, baking spices and gentle smoke. It is medium bodied with suave and elegant tannins. A lovely balancing acidity adds freshness and vibrancy. Would go wonderfully with pork sausages with herbs, lamb and smoked meats.
This is a six-bottle mixed case, containing 2x each of the following wines:
2017 Cairanne - £15.60 Per Bottle
2015 Rasteau ‘Cuvée Marc’ - £19.60 Per Bottle
2018 Lirac - £20.00 Per Bottle
Normal Retail Price - £110.40