The 2016 Cuvée Romaine is another smoking vintage for this cuvée, and in my view, the best to date, surpassing the 2005, 2007, and 2009. Blackberry, peppery herbs, garrigue and hints of leather all emerge from this ripe, full-bodied, incredibly sexy, opulent beauty. With sweet fruit, a stacked mid-palate, no hard edges, sweet tannin and a great finish, this is rockingly good. Buy a case and drink it over the coming 7-8 years.
A perennial value play, the 2016 Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Romaine is a 50-50 blend of Grenache and Syrah that boasts attractive aromas of cherries, leather and dried spices. Medium to full-bodied, it's a lovely rich, ripe Côtes-du-Rhône with a long, velvety finish. It should drink well through 2023 or so. This producer is probably best known in the United States for its Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Romaine, widely available and a consistent value over the years. It's a historic property, where the Bernard family has been on the estate since its creation in 1850. Virginie Combe, representing the sixth generation, led me through the range of wines, all of which are fermented with the stems and aged in concrete. This is traditional, unadulterated winemaking, although refrigeration is used to limit temperatures and retain freshness during fermentation. Quality is consistently excellent across the range, but the "secret" here is the Vacqueyras Osez le Detour, a Syrah-based cuvée that I tasted for the first time during this visit. It's killer stuff. (JC)
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