2003 Domaine de la Citadelle Gouverneur Saint Auban Rouge

Domaine de la Citadelle Gouverneur Saint Auban Rouge

The Cotes du Luberon is one of the most exciting appellations in France, the source of great value Grenache- and Syrah-based blends. Located at the southern end of the Rhone Valley, the appellation produces some outstanding, well-balanced, and gorgeously aromatic reds--bottles that sell for a fraction of the cost of those from nearby appellations like Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, and Vacqueyras.

Thirty years ago, most of the wine from this apellation was made by small village cooperatives. There were some excellent bottlings, but the majority . . . Well, they weren't what we were stowing in our carry-on bags on our way back from France. Over the last thirty years, however, quality has improved dramatically as many committed growers dropped out of the cooperatives and struck out on their own; this forced them to cut their yields and make better wine. Yves Rousset-Rouard's Domaine de la Citadelle is part of this tradition: in 1989, he bought a small estate in Menerbes, whose famous citadel gives the domaine its name.

Domaine de la CitadelleYves is an ambitious guy, and his goal was to create a really special "grand vin," one that rivaled the more prestigious neighbors and, at the same time a wine that reflected the quality and typicity of the Cotes du Luberon appellation. Over the last twenty years, he's grown the estate from 20 to 100 acres of vines, which are divided among 65 different parcels. This scattered vineyard arrangement can be a grower's nightmare, but Yves will be the first to tell you that all the extra work is worth it. The appellation enjoys great diversity of soil composition (clay-limestone, clay-sandstone, stony, and marl), aspects, and varietal plantings. When blended by an expert winemaker like Yves, the resulting wines have stunning complexity and elegance.

"Gouverneur St. Auban" is a special cuvee that Yves and his son, Alexis, produce only in the best vintages and with grapes from the estate's oldest vines, situated on the Hauts Artemes plateau, which rises to an altitude of nearly 1,000 feet above sea level and which enjoys exceptional weather conditions throughout the year--plenty of sunshine, and warm summer days and cool nights thanks to the Mistral.

The blend is predominantly Syrah (70%) complemented with Grenache (20%), and a little Mourvedre and Carignan. In the glass, Gouverneur St. Auban is an intense, deep garnet. The first impression is velvety with a bouquet of well-ripened black fruits and spices. This wine is structured but very elegant with light woody notes. A big wine, but one that's perfectly balanced, noted for its combination of concentration and finesse. Decant before serving, and drink now-2020.