Incorporating 10% Syrah, the Grenache-dominated 2015 Gigondas Cuvee Valbelle is another heavenly wine from Louis Barruol. Full-bodied, seamless and elegant, with lots of crème de cassis, crushed flowers, incense and white pepper, it has a touch less mid-palate depth than the single vineyards, but is impeccably balanced and will have two decades of longevity. Unquestionably one of the reference point estates, not only for Gigondas, but for the entire Southern Rhône, Louis Barruol’s Chateau de Saint Cosme lies just outside the village and covers 25 hectares, with 15 of those located in Gigondas. He makes a fabulous traditional cuvee that has the ability to age for 10-15 years, as well as four single vineyard releases that are primarily Grenache. These single vineyard releases are year in, year out, some of the most impressive wines from the Rhône valley. The winemaking is a mix of modern and tradition, with the wines never destemmed but aged in barrels. Looking at these latest 2015s, Louis bet me a symbolic dollar that these would surpass his 2007s. I think I might win the bet, but not by much, and I’ll certainly be thrilled to lose. Either way, these are undeniably great wines that readers should buy as much as they can afford. The 2014s are more elegant and streamlined, yet they show none of the austerity or firmness that’s common in the vintage and have sweet fruit and ripe tannin. They’re already drinking nicely, but will easily keep for a decade or more.
This is packed with rich, succulent flavors of fig, boysenberry and blackberry compote, layered with anise, ganache and toasted apple wood notes. The strong, grippy spine is well-embedded through the lengthy finish, while the fruit easily keeps pace. (JM)
Blend of 90% grenache and 10% syrah and a more spicy and structured take on the appellation. Attractive dark cherry and plum fruits on the palate. Drink now to 2025.(NS)
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2016 Raymond Usseglio "Cuvée Impériale - Vignes Centenaires" Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Pre-Arrival)