2019 Domaine Comte de Lauze, Châteauneuf du Pape AOC Rouge, Rhône Valley, France.
The rich and full bodied 2019 Comte de Lauze Châteauneuf Rouge, made from 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, is very thick and chocolatey on the palate with oodles of ripe dark berry coulis, plum, candied cherry and balsamic dipped fig fruits, but still shows a nice array of peppery spice, lavender and herb, a light suggestion of black olive, loam and lingering creme de cassis. Winemaker Anne Fourcher, who joins a list of traditional winemaking women making exceptional wines in Châteauneuf du Pape, took over the role at Comte De Lauze, named for a resistance fighter during WWII, who was a friend of the Fourcher family, and has gained quite the reputation in the last decade. This silken Châteauneuf Rouge comes from 40 plus year old vines in the northern zone of the appellation, near the famous Mont-Redon, with north facing exposure, which leads to later picks and more moderate alcohol, and set on pure rocks with no visible dirt or topsoil, that add to the intensity here. A few rumors have Comte de Lauze using a small percentage of Cinsault in this Rouge, depending on the year, which I can see adding a bit more bright focus, spice and complexity, but it is not listed , so I can’t confirm it!

The cellar at Domaine Comte de Lauze in an ancient underground affair and set in the heart of the region, where Fourcher ferments and ages her wines mostly in cement vats and without any new or newer oak employed with all native yeasts and no racking during the elevage. It’s said that her underground cave keeps the temps really low, close to 50F degrees and that promotes a longer maceration and primary fermentation that adds to the power and aromatic qualities here, with this wine showing fine detail, a touch of the Syrah’s feral earthiness and nice restraint. The 2019 is quite lush, especially after time in the glass and I can see the pretty florals coming alive with every sip as well as that fruit density that screams Châteauneuf. Anne who started winemaking here in 2004, makes just about 400 cases of the Rouge here at Comte de Lauze and with the price where it is, makes this a savvy choice, and her Châteauneuf Blanc, only 150 cases, is a non malo co-ferment of 45% Grenache Blanc, 35% Roussanne, 10% each Clairette and Bourbelenc that ages in old large 600L casks, has a cult like following. I didn’t know much about this estate until very recently and was happily surprised with what I tasted, it clearly shows Fourcher’s noted talent is well earned, with her more old school approach, and I look forward to following up on future vintages.
($44 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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