2018 Domaine de la Charbonnière, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, $49.75
Winery info: Eugène Maret purchased this French estate in 1912 and today Caroline and Véronique Maret represent the fourth generation to oversee the family holdings in Châteauneuf-du-Pape as well as in nearby Vacqueyras and the Côtes du Rhône. Véronique took over the winemaking in 2012 and soon began transitioning to organic viticulture. Today, the estate has a solid reputation for producing “well balanced wines that combine the intensity and depth of fruit with finesse and elegance.” Wine writer Robert Parker calls it one of his favorite southern Rhône estates, “run with great passion and enthusiasm.”
Grapes: 40% Grenache Blanc, 40% Roussanne, and 20% Clairette. The Grenache and Roussanne are aged 75% in stainless steel and 25% in new oak barrels for seven months. The Clairette remains in stainless steel vats to retain freshness.
Vineyard: Sourced from two older vineyard sites with very different but complementary terroirs: “Brusquières,” on a high plateau with galets-strewn cobblestone soil, and “Mourre des Perdrix,” with sandy, pebbly soil.
Flavor Profile: It is a medium- to full-bodied wine that is both rich and vibrant, with concentrated aromas of white flowers, and orchard fruit, and flavors of stone fruit and exotic spice. The rich, creamy texture and hints of honey and brioche are perfectly balanced by fresh notes of citrus and flinty minerality. Overall, a lovely combination of elegance and depth.
Availability: The distributor has a decent supply of this wine at the moment.
Drinkability: Enjoy now through around 2024.
Food Pairing: Try it with roast poultry or pork, dishes with creamy sauces, or richer seafood.
2016 Domaine de la Mordorée, La Reine des Bois, Lirac, $51
Winery info: This domaine was founded in 1986 by brothers Christophe and Fabrice Delorme in the town of Tavel, in the southern Rhône Valley. They also own property in nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape and in Lirac, just to the west, from where this wine is sourced. Their goal has always been to produce the best wines possible in each of their appellations, all with minimum impact on the environment (they practice biodynamic farming) and their wines are regarded as some of the finest in the region. Sadly, Christophe passed away in 2015 at the age of 52, but his daughter and his former team have carried on his legacy, clearly demonstrating that the winery will continue on in very capable hands.
Grapes: Roughly equal parts Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre from 40-year-old vines. Aged in a mix of used oak casks and stainless steel.
Vineyard: From sites with predominantly galet cobblestone soil over a mix of sand and red clay.
Flavor Profile: Powerful, yet smooth and elegant, with notes of blackcurrant, pepper, and violets on the nose and flavors of savory herbs and a touch of licorice and garrigue. Rich, and full-bodied, it is a classic example of Côtes du Rhône from Lirac that drinks like a baby Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Availability: The distributor has a few cases of this vintage left.
Drinkability: Enjoy anytime through 2028.
Food Pairing: This wine calls out for more robust meat dishes like a nice roast or steak au poivre.