2017 Domaine La Manarine, Cotes du Rhone Rouge, Rhone Valley, France.
Wow, just when you though Cotes du Rhone couldn’t get any better, after two stellar vintages in 2015 and 2016, it does with these 2017’s, and especially lovely and intriguing is this La Manarine which shows Grenache is its finest light. The Domaine la Manarine was established back in 2001 by Gilles Gasq, who was the long serving assistant winemaker at the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s Domaine Monpertuis, and he has a wonderful collection of vines as well as his cellar in the tiny village of Travaillan, in the southern Rhone just northeast of Orange, not too far from Chateauneuf. The soils here are mostly marl (limestone) and is also littered with Galets, the smooth round stones and pebbles that are famous in Chateauneuf and Gasq has mainly Genache planted here, though he does have a parcel of Syrah and recently added a vineyard of Carignan, which he plans on bottling as a single varietal wine along with a smattering of various white grapes that form his Cotes du Rhone Blanc. The warm and dry Mediterranean climate leads to small yields of concentrated grapes making for wines of complex and dense in flavor. There is so much going for this wine, easy to quaff, but seriously built and great with food, this is a wine to drink over the next 3 to 5 years, I love this vintage, in particular its fresh detail and length.
Gilles uses indigenous yeasts and relies on a non interventionist style, believing the wines are first and foremost made in the vineyard and his wines show terroir and vintage purity and character every year, and I have followed many vintages of them, so I know this 2017 is rather special, for me it is the best yet from this winery. The 2017 La Manarine, 100% Grenache Noir, was from all de-stemmed grapes and fermented in cool stainless vats with a cuvaison of about 20 days, it is then raised for a year on the lees in stainless steel and enamel lined tanks before a racking to clarify, then aged another 6 to 8 months. The 2017 unfined and unfiltered La Manarine Cotes du Rhone from vines that close to 40 years old shows pretty floral aromas, dark fruits and a mix of spice, mineral, incense and earthy highlights with smooth/ripe layers of plum, boysenberry, strawberry and pomegranate fruits, a touch of pepper, lavender, cinnamon stick, salty licorice and kirsch. The deep garnet/ruby La Manarine opens up and gives a wonderfully performance, this is a wine that gains complexity with air, but stays nicely balanced and vivid throughout with a full body and a slightly rustic form making for a classic old world charmer and a Rhone wine of tremendous value. This is joyous and unpretentious Grenache at it’s best, enjoy!
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive