Domaine de Marcoux, Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Domaine de Marcoux, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2015

  • icon-type Type

    Red

  • icon-year Year

    2015

  • icon-style Style

    Dry

  • icon-country Country

    France

  • icon-alcohollevel Alcohol level

    14%

  • icon-grapevariety Grape variety
    Grenache 98%, Mourvedre 2%

The Vieilles Vignes, a cuvee made entirely from old-vine Grenache, made in vintages where the Grenache is abundant, rich and complex. It is sourced from the sandy soils of Charbonnieres (planted 1900), the limestone marl of Esquierons (planted 1900/1949), and the gravelly red clay of Gallimardes (planted 1934/1959). It is aged entirely in 350L barrels for 18 months.

While more concentrated and structured than the regular cuvee, it still possesses the delicate floral and spice character that is the signature of this domaine. No Vieilles Vignes was produced in 2013 or 2014.

About Domaine de Marcoux

There are old families in the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation and there are really old families from the region. The roots of Domaine de Marcoux date all the way back to about the year 1000. Châteauneuf du Pape was not born yet.

The area was still known as Castrum Novum, which meant fortified village. At the time, the ancestors of the Armenier family went under the name of Armani. The estate takes its name from the village of Marcoux, located in the Alpes de Haute Provence.

While the owners of Domaine de Marcoux are obviously one of the oldest families in the Southern Rhone Valley, winemaking did not take place at Domaine de Marcoux until quite recently. The first vintage was 1989. In 1990, they began farming about 30% of their vineyards using only biodynamic experiments.

Six years later, the sisters, Catherine Armenier and Sophie Estevenin started managing Domaine de Marcoux after their brother Philippe Armenier moved to Napa Valley in California in 1995. Catherine Armenier is responsible for the wine making, and Sophie Armenier looks after the business end of the winery.

Domaine de Marcoux practices biodynamics farming of their 17.5 planted hectares of vines that are spread out into at least 10 separate parcels. On average, their vines are close to 50 years of age. They have old vines, the oldest are more than 100 years old.

They come from 2.3 hectares distributed among 3 parcels that are planted on a terroir of sandy soils. The best of those vines are planted in the La Crau vineyard.

That is the grape source for the Domaine de Marcoux Vieilles Vignes. They also have vines planted in the Les Esqueierons, Coste Froide, Les Gaumardes, Les Charbonnieres, Les Plages, Beaurenard, La Bigote and Les Bas Serres lieu-dits. At Domaine Marcoux, .8 hectares of their vines are reserved for the production of white wine grapes.

Domaine de Marcoux is a traditionally managed Rhone property. After harvest, a portion of the berries are destemmed and sorted to each specific grape variety before fermentation.

The fruit spends 3 weeks in concrete vats. Malolactic fermentation takes place in vats. At that point, the wine is aged in a combination of concrete vats and foudres for between 16 to 18 months before bottling.

Grape variety
Grenache

Grenache or Garnacha is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It ripens late, so it needs hot, dry conditions such as those found in Spain, where the grape most likely originated. It is also grown in the Italian isle of Sardinia, the south of France, Australia, and California's Monterey AVA and San Joaquin Valley.

It is generally spicy, berry-flavoured and soft on the palate and produces wine with a relatively high alcohol content, but it needs careful control of yields for best results. Characteristic flavour profiles on Grenache include red fruit flavours (raspberry and strawberry) with a subtle, white pepper spice note. Grenache wines are highly prone to oxidation, with even young examples having the potential to show browning (or "bricking") coloration that can be noticed around the rim when evaluating the wine at an angle in the glass. As Grenache ages the wines tend to take on more leather and tar flavours. Wines made from Grenache tend to lack acid, tannin and colour, and it is often blended with other varieties such as Syrah, Carignan, Tempranillo, and Cinsaut.

In Spain, there are mono-varietal wines made of Garnacha tinta (red Grenache), notably in the southern Aragon wine regions of Calatayud, Carinena and Campo de Borja, but it is also used in blends, as in some Rioja wines with tempranillo. Grenache is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône wines, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where it is typically over 80% of the blend. In Australia it is typically blended in "GSM" blends with Syrah (commonly known as Shiraz in that country) and Mourvèdre with old vine examples in McLaren Vale. In Italy, the Sardinian D.O.C. wine Cannonau di Sardegna is by law 90% local Grenache (Cannonau). Grenache is also used to make rosé wines in France and Spain, notably those of the Tavel district in the Côtes du Rhône and those of the Navarra region. And the high sugar levels of Grenache have led to extensive use in fortified wines, including the red vins doux naturels of Roussillon such as Banyuls, and as the basis of most Australian fortified wine.

Grenache is often used as a blending component, adding body and sweet fruitiness to a wine. The grape can be troublesome for the winemaker due to tendency to oxidize easily and lose colour. To compensate for the grape's naturally low tannins and phenolic compounds, some producers will use excessively harsh pressing and hot fermentation with stems to extract the maximal amount of colour and phenols from the skins. This can backfire to produce green, herbaceous flavours and coarse, astringent wine lacking the grape's characteristic vibrant fruitiness. To maintain those character traits, Grenache responds best to a long, slow fermentation at cooler temperatures followed by a maceration period. To curb against oxidation, the wine should be racked as little as possible. The use of new oak barrels can help with retaining colour and preventing oxidation but too much oak influence can cover up the fruitiness of Grenache.

The high levels of sugars and lack of harsh tannins, makes Grenache well adapted to the production of fortified wines, such as the vin doux naturels (VDN) of the Roussillon region and the "port-style" wines of Australia. In these wines, the must ferments for three days before grape spirit is added to the must to halt the fermentation and the conversion of sugar into alcohol. The high alcoholic proof grape spirit brings the finished wine up to 15–16% alcohol. These wines can be made in a rancio style by being left outside in glass demi-johns (or carboys) or wooden barrels where the wine bakes in the sun for several years until it develops a maderized character and flavours of sour raisins, nuts and cheese. These fortified VDNs and port-style wines have longevity and can be drinkable well into their third decade.

Alternative Names: Alicante, Cannonau, Garnacha, Garnacha Tinta, Garnatxa, Granaccia, Grenache Noir, Lladoner, Tinto Aragones, Tocai Rosso

Mourvèdre

Mourvèdre is a red wine grape variety grown in many regions around the world including the Rhône and Provence regions of France, the Valencia and Jumilla denominaciones de origen of Spain, as well as the Balearic Islands, California and Washington and the Australian regions of South Australia and New South Wales, as well as South Africa. In addition to making red varietal wines, Mourvèdre is a prominent component in "GSM" (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre) blends. The variety is also used to make rosé and port-style fortified wines.

Mourvèdre tends to produce tannic wines that can be high in alcohol. The style of wine produced from the grapes varies greatly according to where it is produced, but according to wine expert Jancis Robinson Mourvèdre wines often have wild game, or earthy notes to them, with soft red fruit flavours. According to wine expert Oz Clarke, young Mourvèdre can come across as faulted due to the reductive, sulfur notes and "farmyard-y" flavours that some wines can exhibit before those flavours mellow with age.

The variety can be a difficult grape to grow, preferring "its face in the hot sun and its feet in the water" meaning that it needs very warm weather, a low leaf-to-fruit ratio but adequate water or irrigation to produce intensely flavoured fruit that is not overly jammy or herbaceous. The vines' susceptibility to many viticultural hazards such as powdery and downy mildew as well as overly vigorous foliage can present additional problems for vine growers.

The small, thick-skin berries of Mourvèdre are high in phenolic compounds that have the potential to produce a deeply coloured, very tannic wine with significant alcohol levels if harvested at high sugar levels. However, the variety is rarely harvested at sugar levels below 13% alcohol (approx 23 Brix) because the flavours at those lower levels are often very weak and herbaceous. In winemaking, wines made from Mourvèdre are prone to both oxidation and reductive flavours (such as hydrogen sulphide) if care is not taken at the winery. While in Bandol, it is common to ferment Mourvèdre with the stems, the grapes usually go through a crusher/destemmer in New World regions such as a California due to the harsher, green tannins that are more typical of the stems in those regions. While the wine can be stored in oak barrels, it often does not absorb oak flavours as well as other varieties (such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) so it is often stored in neutral oak or large format barrels.

In many regions of the world, Mourvèdre is often blended with other varieties such as Grenache and Syrah in the "GSM" blends of Rhône, Australia and the United States. In these blends, Mourvèdre often provides colour, fruit and some tannic structure to complement the fruity Grenache and elegant Syrah. In Provence and Rhône it also sometimes blended with Cinsault and Carignan as part of both red table wines and rosé. In Australia, the variety is sometimes used in fortified port-style wines.

According to wine expert Jancis Robinson, in favourable vintages Mourvèdre can produce highly perfumed wines with intense fruit flavours and notes of blackberries and gamy or meaty flavours. Oz Clarke notes that some examples of Mourvèdre may come across as faulted in their youth with "farmyard-y" and strong herbal flavours. As the wine ages, more earthy tertiary aromas may develop before becoming more leather and gingerbread aroma notes.

In both Old and New World wine regions, Mourvèdre is a popular grape to be used in rosé winemaking. These wines can be made as a dedicated rosé where the skins are allowed only a brief period of skin contact (a few hours or a single day) before they are pressed or as saignée where some of the juice destined for a red Mourvèdre is "bled off" during fermentation creating two separate wines - a darker, more concentrated red wine and the lighter rosé.

Alternative Names: Monastrell, Mataro, Esparte, Etrangle-Chien

About Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a historic village between the towns of Orange and Avignon, in France's southern Rhône Valley. It is famous for powerful, full-bodied red wines made predominantly from the classic southern Rhône grape trio: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. These three varieties are behind the vast majority of the appellation's red wines, although a total of eighteen are approved for use – a mix of red and white grape varieties.

Grenache is king in the vineyards here. It is used in every Châteauneuf red to some extent, and many are made entirely from it. The variety performs better here than in any other French region, and contributes juicy, jammy red-fruit flavours and high potential alcohol. After Grenache, the next most important varieties are Syrah and Mourvèdre. Syrah grows most successfully in the town's cooler sites, and brings structure and spiced black-fruit notes to the blend. Late-ripening, sun-loving Mourvèdre flourishes only in the hotter, drier vineyards, and adds dark depths and bitter-chocolate notes.

Counoise is the only other red-wine variety to be grown here in any significant quantity. The others – Cinsaut, Muscardin, Vaccarese, Picpoul Noir, Terret Noir – are planted only in small quantities.

The vineyards here also produce white Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, which are tangy, weighty and intensely perfumed. These are made from a number of rustic southern French varieties, most importantly Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc, but also a few which are entirely unknown outside southern France (Clairette Rosé, Grenache Gris, Picardin, Picpoul Blanc, Picpoul Gris).

The soils around Chateauneuf-du-Pape are pebbly and sandy, as is common in the southern half of the Rhône Valley. They are formed mostly of ancient riverbeds of various ages (the town and its vineyards are located just to the east of the Rhône river). The archetypal Châteauneuf vineyard is strewn with large pebbles known as galets, whose soft, rounded form stands in direct contrast to the gnarly, twisted vine trunks.

The climate here is Mediterranean and very dry (Châteauneuf-du-Pape is technically the driest of all Rhône appellations), which makes it all the more significant that arrosage (irrigation or watering) is strictly forbidden during the growing season. In extreme cases, the wineries must apply for special permission from the French government to water their vines.

The name Châteauneuf-du-Pape means "new castle of the Pope", and harks back to the early 14th Century, when Avignon was chosen as the new home for the Pope's court. The incumbent Pope at that time was Clement V, whose name also features in the ancient and prestigious Château Pape Clément in Graves. The town's name may be drenched in history, but as a wine title it has been prestigious for less than a century. Up until the early 20th century, the town's wines were anonymously grouped together with others from the Avignon area. This all changed in the 1920s, when Baron Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarié (owner of Château Fortia) drafted a set of quality-focused production conditions for the town's wines – a document which became the precursor of France's famous appellation system. The official Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation title declared in June 1929 was one of the country's very first, and remains one of the most prestigious even today.

Curiously, the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape itself is also famous for a municipal decree added in the 1950s that bans flying saucers from taking off, landing, or flying over the vineyards.

Regular price $362.00

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