Châteauneuf du Pape, Fiancée, 2016

  Domaine La Barroche

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.

Contains Sulphites.

About Domaine La Barroche

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.) 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.

Appellation: Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, literally the Pope's new castle, (referring to move of the papal court to Avignon the the 1300s) is a large appellation in the Southern Rhône and is considered the birth place of the Appellation Contrôlee system. In 1923 Baron Le Roy of Ch Fortia had successfully established a strict set of rules for the production of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, including delimiting an area for wine production and setting a minimum alcoholic strength of 12.5%. Reds and whites are produced, but the former is the far bigger of the two. Both colours produce rich, full-bodied heady wines rarely below 13.5 - 14% alcohol, distinctly southern and warm in character. The reds can vary from the hot, stewed or underipe to the rich, powerful, complex and tannic. The red wines can be aged for anything between 5 - 20 years depending on the quality of the individual wine. The sweetness and headiness of red Châteauneuf-du-Papes comes from thre Grenache grape, it makes wines of sweet fruit, high alcohol and light colour. This is the dominant variety. There are increasing amounts of Châteauneuf-du-Papes which are Grenache only. However the classic and most common version is a blend of up to 13 varieties, the main players being Grenache, Syrah (which lends colour complexity and finesse) and Mourvèdre (which also lends colour, complexity, tannic backbone and acidity). The other varieties include the decreasing Cinsault, Counoise - highly thought of for its acidity- and a number of white grapes that can also be blended into the red wines aswell as being used for makings whites, the most important of these are Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, the excellent Clairette and Roussanne.

The vineyard area extends over more than 3000 ha, the chief communes being Châteauneuf-du-Pape itself, Bédarrides, Courthézon, Orange, and Sorgues. The soils differ throughout the appellation from the classic large "Galet" stones which radiate heat to the low-trained old goblet vines, to varying degrees of clay, limestone and sand (the last of these can produce very sensual, silky wines the most famous of example of which would be Rayas.) Winemaking techniques vary from the traditional, all or part of the stalks included in the winemaking, fermentation and ageing in large old wooden foudres, to the more modern de-stalking, tank fermentation and new oak barriques maturation, or a blend of the two. The appellation is big therefore there are plenty of underperformers, however there is also, fortunately, an increasingly large selection of top class producers, including: Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, Beaucastel, Clos des Papes, Domaine de Pegaü, Ch Rayas, Pierre Usseglio, Jean-Paul Versino, Vieux Donjon and Domaine de la Janasse. The best White Châteauneuf-du-Pape usually seems to have a high proportion of Clairette in it, though there is also an excellent single varietal Roussanne made by Beaucastel, the wines are powerful complex but are low in acidity and should usually be drunk in the first three years after the vintage.

Grape Blend: Grenache | Syrah

Two of the key components of the top Southern Rhône blends, Châteauneuf-du-Pape the most famous example. The two are generally only found as a blend on their own in the Languedoc, used for fruit-driven, early drinking Vin de Pays wines. The Grenache with its body, sweetness and warmth and Syrah with its colour tannic structure and spicy black fruit characteristics, are ideally suited to each other.