2000 Domaine Gramenon, Vinsobres Cotes du Rhone Villages “Les Hauts de Gramenon” Rhone Valley, France.
The beautifully tertiary and mature 2000 vintage Les Hauts de Gramenon by Domaine Gramenon is on its last legs, but was surprisingly pleasing, lovely and complex last night , making for a hugely rewarding experience in an old Rhone and naturally made wine. Gramenon was originally brought to the United States by Bobby Kacher at Robert Kacher Selections, who took a chance on these natural wines by the Laurent family in the wilds of the Vinsobres area of the Southern Rhone Valley, which sits higher in the region, well north of Avignon, at good elevation, which only just received its AOC the status and became a “Rhône Cru” in 2006, though well known for its high quality for centuries. The wines here in Vinsobres must contain at least 50% Grenache and 25% Syrah and/or Mourvèdre to be labeled Vinsobres and usually do contain a healthy dose of Syrah, which can produce unbelievably gorgeous and haunting wines as seen in the bottlings by Chateau de Saint Cosme’s historic Chateau de Roanne and of course by the Laurent’s here at Domaine Gramenon. This dark garnet with burnt orange edges 2000 starts with earthy intensity, dusty porporri and dried red fruits with touches of leather, anise and a sensation of autumn in the glass, but beyond the obvious age the palate is still lively and the layers of strawberry, raspberry and blueberry fruits have a quality ripe sweetness that matches the savory elements well, especially for the first half an hour or so before the ever present signs of decay and sous bois notes take the stage. Even then the wine holds on bravely and with some exciting flair even, very impressive for a wine that should have been drunk close to twenty years ago.

Domaine Gramenon is now lead by the talents of Maxime François Laurent, who has grown into the role here magnificently and who has made a name for himself in his own right with a series of personal wines and who is admired for his perfumed and fresh wines here. He grew up fast after the sad and untimely death of his father in 1999, after which this estate has gained a huge following and now a significant part of the awesome selection of Rhones in importer Kermit Lynch’s star studded portfolio, and these Gramenon offerings, especially in recent years have developed a fanatic following. While getting his feet wet here, Maxime’s mom Michele Aubery-Laurent played a huge role in running this small estate after her husband passed and much credit to her is deserved for the quality and style here, working the vineyards with total commitment to organics and biodynamic methods. This wine has evolved into a beauty, though I must admit I would have preferred drinking it maybe ten years ago in its true glory years, but grateful it was still brilliant even now, crafted from mostly Grenache and Syrah grapes that saw partial whole cluster and nature yeast fermentation in mainly cement vats. In this period these wines saw little oak and raised in the tank, though a portion did get some time in demi-muid(s) and small barrels when needed, especially the darker and meatier Syrah. Nowadays, Maxime employs more barrique in the aging of his wines, that normally see lees than a year of elevage before bottling, though still having the concrete as the main vessel to mature these fabulous wines. I’ve really enjoyed exploring some very old Cotes du Rhone and Gigondas recently with these Gramenon efforts from 1998, 1999 and 2000 all being joyous and fine examples, making me seriously want to stock up current releases!
($35 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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