2021 Domaine Gramenon, Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge “Poignée de Raisins” Rhône Valley, France.
Maxime François Laurent’s gorgeous 2021 Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge “Poignée de Raisins” is brilliant deeply flavored and complex 100% Grenache with beautiful aromatics, wild savory notes, exotic spices and crisp detailing, all the while providing rich and pleasure filled fruit density and racy intensity. This vintage is one of my favorite versions of this cuvée with its energy, moderate alcohol and finesse showing dark sultry earthiness and perfumed violet/lilac florals, almost Syrah like, but with satiny expressive black raspberry, candied cherry, plum and pomegranate fruits, along with shaved cinnamon, fresh cracked pepper, licorice, graphite/mineral, dried sage/lavender, crushed stones and a hint of framboise. Gramenon is all organic and biodynamic and this wine is naturally fresh and has a thrilling energy or lifting tension, highlighting the transparent winemaking done here, with this Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge “Poignée de Raisins” seeing partial whole cluster fermentation and a short 15 day maceration in cement tank, after which the wine was aged just 6 months in tank before bottling to promote freshness and purity. All the Gramenon wines are fermented using only indigenous yeasts with the reds bottled unfined and unfiltered, and with no additional sulfur added during fermentation. For Gramenon the wine is truly made in the vineyards, and this one is no different, coming from small yielding vines, some close to 30 years old, set on a combination of clay and limestone, along with gravel, galets roulés, round river stones, that are similar to what is found in the famous Châteaneuf du Pape, and some sandy areas. Importer Kermit Lynch, who knows a lot about great Rhône producers, says The Laurents are committed to their passion, they use gravity-fed tanks and age their wines in oak demi-muids, tank, cement vats and foudres, adding that they take gutsy risks (like) bottling old-vine wine with almost no little sulfur, without fining or filtration. While absolutely delicious now, I have a sneaky feeling the best is yet to come here with this Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge “Poignée de Raisins”, especially with another couple of years of bottle age.
The Domaine Gramenon, as noted here before, made its first vintage in 1990 by the late Philippe Laurent, does a vast array of unique bottlings, most are focused around their main grape Grenache, but they also do a couple of single varietal Syrah(s) with this Sierra du Sud being one. This wine is labeled as a Côtes du Rhône, similar to what Chateau de Saint Cosme does, the famous Gigondas producer that has vineyard holdings in Vinsobres too, and who’s basic Côtes du Rhône is also 100% Syrah. The winemaking at Gramenon is very old school and the wines are more made in the vineyard, rather than the rustic cellar with a minimalist approach and with low SO2 additions, in some cases without any sulfur being added at all, even in their most prized bottlings. Philippe Laurent, as mentioned in prior reviews, was sadly killed in a car accident tragically in the late 1990s, he was survived by his wife Michèle Aubèry-Laurent who has done a brilliant job of lifting this small organic and natural winery up since then, and Gramenon has gained even more notoriety in recent years with Michele’s talented son Maxime François Laurent making the wines here. The Domaine Gramenon, based in the northern zone of the southern Rhone near Vinsobres, which is proving to be an exciting hot spot for Syrah, and compelling cool toned, but deep Grenache too, as seen in this wine, is leading the way here and I highly recommend searching these incredible wines out! There’s close to 20 small batch offerings crafted at Gramenon, with a Rosé and a Blanc joining the mainly red bottlings, with my favorites traditionally including the Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge “Sierra du Sud”, that is 100% Syrah, Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge “Ceps Centenaires La Mémé ” from 100 year old Grenache vines, Vinsobres Rouge “La Papesse”, an older vine version of this wine, and the Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge “Il Fait Soif” that is bottled under Maxime François Laurent’s personal label. In recent years I have had the opportunity to taste 20 plus year old wines from Gramenon, from 1998, 2000 and 2001, and all of them were still alive and kicking, in fact they were incredible, proving to me they can age too!
($33 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive