2010 Domaine la Monardiere, Vacqueyras Rouge, Les 2 Monardes, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Rhone Valley, France.
The nearly perfect and in peak condition, Vacqueyras Les 2 Monardes, by Martine and Christian Vache at Domaine la Monardiere put on a great show in the glass last night with crisp details and lovely maturity of flavors with seductive layers of ripe Grenache led red fruits, subtle earthy/savory elements, polished structural excellence and a beautiful array of spice, florals and a faint meatiness that impresses on the full bodied palate. I haven’t experienced the Vache’s wines to much and so this find was truly a brilliant discovery, it came to me through a friend that bought an incredible cellar full of top Rhone wines, where the wines were stored in pristine condition and of which had some gems that would not bring top dollars at auction, but offer an outstanding drinking value with just the right amount of age to bring out their full potential, as this La Monardiere delivered last night. In recent weeks, I’ve tried so even older (Rhone) stuff from the same cellar that also brought intense pleasure, so I was really excited for this one from a stellar vintage in the southern Rhone Valley, and I was not disappointed, this special Lieu-Dit Vacqueyras way over performed with classic, very Chateauneuf du Pape like presence, showing brambly boysenberry, dried sweet red cherry, pomegranate, black fig, strawberry preserves and racy currant fruits, wild herbs, crushed flowers, a hint of game (as the good dose of Syrah comes alive with air) and loaminess, as well as framboise, mint, pepper and anise. With time and food, this beautiful Domaine la Monardiere Les 2 Monardes adds dimension, depth and length with everything hitting the right notes and lifting this Vacqueyras to the next level, I am also excited to check out the wineries latest releases, especially from the 2016 vintage, that should be awesome and could be just as desirable in 10 to 15 years as well, like this 2010 is proving.

The Vache family bought this estate from Monardieres back in 1987 and began their journey into becoming a top producer in the Vacqueyras with a lot of hard work, investment in the cellar and converting all the vines to organic, which clearly paid off with their wines, they have found a sweet spot in their style that appears so well in the riveting results of their two main bottlings, with this one in particular being everything you’d ever want from a Rhone red wine at a very reasonable price. The Les 2 Monardes was crafted from 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah from vines of an average age of 40 years, with this Lieu-Dit planted in chalky grit (limestone) and sandy clay soils in the Vacqueyras AOC. The Grenache and Syrah grapes are all hand-harvested, with impeccable and careful sorting to only get the very best of the estate fruit for this wine. This version saw 100% de-stemmed grape berries that was fermented using spontaneous natural yeasts, with a maceration and extraction period of almost three weeks with gentle daily punch-downs to showcase the terroir. The Vache’s traditional approach included them aging their Vacqueyras cru from 12 months in a combination of tanks, especially revealing in the Grenache and a few lots in barrels to add richness and soften tannins and then chosen, blended and bottled, without fining or filtration to capture every nuance of this wine’s soul in the bottle. The Monardiere lineup includes a Vacqueyras Rosé, an Old Vine Vacqueyras (Vieilles Vignes) and this single vineyard style Les 2 Monardes, all of which should be on your radar if you love Rhone wines, and are Grenache fans. These artisan offerings from the Vache family show what Vacqueyras can do in the right hands and they, for all of the wines, they work with lower than the legal limits with very small yields to get serious concentration and express a powerful profile, while employing mostly cement vessels to promote transparency and freshness, which is highlighted in this spectacular Rhone red.
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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