The most sought-after wines of the southern Rhone come from Chateauneuf du Pape--"one of the hottest categories of the new millennium," as Steve Tanzer says in The WineAccess Buyer's Guide. Bottles of silky smooth, Grenache-based Chateuneufs from top producers like Chateau Rayas often border on the sublime and are objects of fierce international competition. When we learned that Domaine La Barroche's parcel of 100-year-old Grenache vines lies next to the Chateau Rayas vineyard, we couldn't wait to taste it.
It's not often that we talk about extraordinary new producers in an appellation that's over 500 years old (and where vineyards rarely change hands), but Julien Barrot's Domaine La Barroche has taken the wine world by storm. And his 2004s are some of the most talked-about wines in France.
When we dug a little deeper, we discovered that the fruit off of the Barrot family's vineyards was coveted by every top negociant, with most of the fruit typically being purchased by Guigal. That changed when Julien returned from oenology school determined to terminate the negociant contracts and bottle all the wine under the family's estate name.
Two thousand three was the first vintage. Julien made just a single cuvee. But in 2004, Domaine La Barroche came out with three bottlings, each of which represents a different aspect of the varied soil composition and vineyard exposition in the heart of Chateauneuf du Pape. Julien's "Fiancee" was born out of his love for two grapes: 100-year-old Grenache and young Syrah, combined in equal measure. It's an alliance of opposites, and yet the perfect fusion of masculine and feminine, a silky blend of power and finesse with the aromas of fresh fruits, gingerbread and coconut.
"Bright red. Suave, perfumed and vibrant on the nose, with aromas of raspberry, wild strawberry, gingerbread, fruitcake and candied licorice. Weighty and lush in texture, the sweet berry notes expanding and deepening; notes of cinnamon and mocha add complexity and interest. Quite sweet and precise on the supple, very long finish, which clings wonderfully."
--Josh Raynolds, 91-93 pts, International Wine Cellar
Suggested Food Pairing:
A recent lunch at Barroche had us feasting on a hearty, rich wild boar stew over golden roasted potatoes. The dark pepperiness of the wine with the aromatic sauce of the boar was magnificent. If you can't find wild boar in your town you could always try a hearty beef stew.