A blend of two complete opposites – 100 year old Grenache from Grand Pierre/ Rayas, Palestor and Terres Blanches plots and young Syrah from the Cabrieres area. Unripe grapes are de-stalked though for most of the old Grenache they are included in the fermentation, which happens in concrete tanks. Extraction is long slow and gentle, lasting up to four weeks. After ageing in concrete for the Grenache and 600 litre used oak barrels for the Syrah during a period of 18 months, the two are blended together to form the most beautiful of partnerships. Seamless, haunting and complex without at any stage being too much, the Fiancée is a fusion of dark fruits, savoury and spice notes with the most glossy of textures. Composed yet intense, offering flavours of cassis, cherry, kirsch, sage and garrigue. There are no hard edges here, being neither too sweet nor too savoury, too powerful nor too delicate. You can sense the freshness playing a key support role to the ripe fruit, rather than an overly intrusive one. “Harmony” would have been an equally fitting name for this Cuvée. Seductive and smooth enough to be enjoyed young, yet with the sheer drive, depth and balance to age beautifully this is a truly great Châteauneuf du Pape.
Julien Barrot, of Domaine la Barroche, is one of the young, emerging talents of the southern Rhône. After Julien completed his winemaking course in Montpellier he backpacked around the vineyards of France and Australia, thirsty for knowledge and eager to expand his experiences. He came back and joined his father in 2002, more convinced than ever of the importance of terroir. Julien's enthusiasm and passion rubbed off on his father and together they agreed to release the first Domaine-bottled wines in the 2003 vintage. For thirty years previously Julien's father Christian had been working the vineyards and making wine but selling it off in bulk to local merchants. Though Christian is still around to lend advice, he entrusted the entire Domaine to Julien as of the 2006 vintage. The estate is small, encompassing 12 ha, and is planted to the traditional varieties including Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault, Terret Noir and Clairette. The average age of the vines is 60 years old and one third of the vineyard is more than 100 years old (Grenache.) Their holdings are in some of Châteauneuf’s most hallowed ground, most notably those at the junction of the sandy Rayas, Pointu and Grand Pierre sectors. Grapes are hand picked, wines are fermented in concrete vat and aged in a mixture of large old wooden foudres and smaller oak barrels. The wine is handled gently, everything is done by gravity, and extractions are gentle. This has rapidly become a stellar Domaine.