Up from the Cellar #9

We are back with another Up from the Cellar Tasting! Only two Domaines here with four wines in total. One is of course a rosé… because why not and its summer! Finally that English weather has stopped and some sort of quasi-mediterranean sunshine hit us before it then went away again. The first wine we purchased at Aldi as Jen was insistent that we get it as it is ‘going viral’. I was a little perplexed mainly because I had not actually seen it anywhere on my social media but perhaps I am just slow to the times. We are, of course, tasting a rosé because its summer and also because we’re British so we must drink either Pimms, G&T or Rosé wine whenever the sun is out. We just never know when it is going to come back so we must make the most of it. The second Domaine is Saint Jean du Barroux, hailing from the Ventoux region which is just north east of Chateauneuf, Gigondas and Vacqueyras so remaining in the Southern Rhone wine region. These are all red wines but their grapes are grown in higher altitude vineyards, so there are some great differences here to what we would consider as normal southern Rhone wines. I wanted to share them with you in time for Summer.

So without further ado… let’s crack on!

Chassaux et Fils

With all due respect, it has been so difficult to find anything out about this Domaine. It is certainly a big producer as Aldi has quite a few of their wines. However, I also notice that they make wines from very different regions across France so I am inclined to suggest that they are probably a Negociant. So someone who buys grapes from vignerons and then produces the wines themselves. Safe to say, however, that their wines must be of a decent quality as I have also seen quite a few reviews from Decanter and other wine critics… here’s hoping the rose is good!

Saint Jean du Barroux

This Domaine is really quite interesting and is the whole reason as to why I did this particular tasting. Bringing some of the purest expressions of Southern Rhone grape varieties to the fore utilising both altitude and extremely old vines. This is certainly a Domaine to look out for and taste. Ex-Chemist Philippe Gimel is the proprietor here. Situated in Le Barroux in the Ventoux region he started with just a few hectares… he now has 16! These are organically grown and tended to and hand-harvested every year. His land is truly impressive and every effort is made to showcase the varying altitudes he has at his disposal across the Ventoux region. His Syrah and Grenache is grown on the highest altitudes with his other varieties slightly lower. Having crafted his knowledge and skills in the Loire valley and at Chateau de Beaucastel in Chateauneuf he has produced top quality wines for a while now. So let’s sit back and enjoy…

Now to the wines !

Chassaux et Fils Rosorange 2023

A blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Grenache Gris, Macabeu and Vermentino.

Tasting Note – Rating 89

Lovely aromas of peaches, orange and citrus. Lovely and luscious on the palate with an intense full body. Certainly a rose for food. Lots of orange, citrus and hints of grapefruit on the palate. There is lovely acidity here offering up great freshness… certainly needed for a rose in my opinion. Really good flavours with great concentration and will certainly do you well on a hot day. A nice long finish. Drink up!

Saint Jean du Barroux La Source 2016

A blend of Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault (with roughly 70% Grenache).

Tasting Note – Rating 92

Cassis, black cherries and garrigues aromas immediately hit the nose. Deep and dark fruit first off on the palate but then lifted by a light body and lots of freshness. Altitude clearing making a difference here, I have never had such powerful aromas which then transfer onto a light body. Herbaceous and vegetal as well with those garrigues aromas really coming through on the palate. Soil and vegetation quite prominent towards the end as well. A lovely, well-structured and layered body which again is so light and bright with ample freshness and acidity. Very different to your usual Southern Rhone wines with similar grape varieties and definitely good for summer. Drinking really well now and will certainly go for another 5-8 without issue.

Saint Jean du Barroux L’Argile 2016

A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault. The majority again being Grenache and roughly 15% Syrah.

Tasting Note – Rating 94+

Dark fruit. Cherries, blackcurrants and plums. Some good garrigues notes again with hints of vegetation and a purity of dark fruit that just engages the palate. Light – medium body again with the altitude playing its part. Great freshness, vibrancy and really racy acidity. This has really good depth of flavour is certainly in my opinion a step above La Source. This has really great complexity and a good structure throughout. A really long finish and is drinking so well now. Certainly has room to grow and evolve and will do nicely over the next 6-8 years.

Saint Jean du Barroux La Pierre Noir 2015

Roughly 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah here from the best plots.

Tasting Note – Rating 96

Lots of dark fruit here with black cherries, black raspberries, plums with cassis. Good vegetal notes with more of that soil and undergrowth notes. Seriously concentrated fruit on the palate and really tense. The palate does not disappoint. Gorgeous black fruits again with those cherries and plums nicely rounded. Altitude again leaving a mark with freshness and energy to the medium body of this wine. Eucalyptus and hints of garrigues coming through and working nicely together and a great structure throughout. Gorgeously embedded tannins with near perfect acidity. This is a truly great wine and whilst drinking so well now will only get better over the next 5-8 years… most likely a decade. Bravo!

So the rosé… honestly it was good, nothing wrong with it at all and for £8 (roughly) it was certainly worth it. Only thing I would say is that you definitely need food to fully enjoy this. I would not suggest having it as an aperitif only because that orange really comes through thick and fast, could be off-putting. The reds… well you can see what I thought of those. These are some really interesting wines with so much potential. One of the great things as well is that Philippe will not release his wines for sale until he believes they are ready to be drunk… so you don’t even have to wait once you’ve bought them to open them! Love it.

Many thanks for reading as always and I hope you found it interesting, enjoyable and maybe even educational! (Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves… 😉)

I am hoping to get another article out this week but it could be next week. I like to keep you guessing! See you soon.

Harry Vernau

Share this post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published