2021 Domaine Gramenon, Sierra du Sud, Cotes du Rhone Red, France.
I’ve always loved this bottling by Domaine Gramenon, the Sierra du Sud never disappoints with its distinctive pure Syrah profile and sense of place and this 2021 vintage has depth, balance and poise that makes it feel like a wine that should cost twice or three times the price with dark vine picked berries, spice, earth and sweet spring flowers all coming alive on the full bodied palate. There’s a vibrancy and tension that makes this all biodynamic Sierra du Sud purr with a delicious play between fruit density and savory tones with a lingering finish that has feral elements and satisfying creme de cassis, and while not quite at the level of a Cote Rotie, this is beautiful and plenty of thrill to it with boysenberry, violets, camphor, damson plum, minty herbs, anise and subtle meatiness. It is hard to call the Domaine Gramenon wines simply Cotes-du-Rhones, as I’ve said a few times before here, it just doesn’t fit, these, especially the Sierra du Sud, are iconic efforts. Maybe it is the distinct location, or the biodynamic farming that give these wines there own character, but regardless, these hand-crafted bottlings are loaded with fruit, intensity and depth that goes way beyond their merger classification, and it particularly is in evidence here with the Sierra du Sud from Gramenon. The vines here for the 100% Syrah Sierra du Sud are close to 35 years old and set on clay, limestone, gravel, galets roulés (stones) and sandy soils with a slightly cooler climate that suits the Syrah and promotes its deep flavors as found in this wine.

The Domaine Gramenon, imported by Kermit Lynch, as mentioned 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 Cotes du Rhone, similar to what Chateau de Saint Cosme does, the famous Gigondas producer that has vineyard holdings in Vinsobres too, and who’s basic Cotes du Rhone 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. The Sierra du Sud was fermented with partial whole cluster and some stem inclusion with native yeasts in concrete vat with a gentle 10 to 12 day maceration before being aged in a combination of tank (cement) and old barriques for just under a year, usually about seven months. This wine, like all the wines at Gramenon was bottled unfined and unfiltered, to preserve its true personality and charm. Philippe Laurent, who was sadly killed in a car accident, has been survived by his wife Michèle Aubèry-Laurent who has done a brilliant job of lifting this small organic and natural winery up, that 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 Grenache too, is leading the way here and I highly recommend searching these incredible wines out!
($41 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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