2003 Domaine la Barroche Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Domaine la Barroche Chateauneuf-du-Pape Alexandre Barrot bought his first vineyard parcels in Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the 1600s while Louis XIV was renovating his father's hunting lodge in Versailles. For the next 300-plus years the Barrots raised prized grapes, which they sold to the best winemakers in the region. In recent years the Barrots have become famous in Chateauneuf-du-Pape for their plots of 100-year-old Grenache vines, the largest of which abuts the world-famous Rayas vineyard.

The Barrots own twelve separate vineyard parcels in all, and for the last fifty years vines have been tended by Christian Barrot, who is considered one of the most attentive and expert growers in the appellation. Located at the northern end of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the Barrots' vineyards are blanketed with a layer of ochre stones and pebbles. These stones, called galets roules, lie atop the red clay soil and moderate the ground temperature by trapping heat during the day and by keeping the soil cool through the morning.

The BarrotsIn 2002, Christian's son, Julien, completed his studies in winemaking and joined his father on their estate. In addition to earning a degree in enology, Julien apprenticed with winemakers in Bordeaux and Australia. By pooling their knowledge, Christian and Julien launched their own label, Domaine la Barroche. The Barrots released three cuvees of wines from 2004, but in 2003 Christian and Julien produced just one bottling--a blend of Grenache (50%), Syrah (30%), and Mourvedre (20%)--due to the heat and the small harvest.

Many feared that the extreme heat of the 2003 vintage would produce only roasted wines, but the truth is that such blanket generalizations fall apart under closer scrutiny. In fact, in warm appellations like the southern Rhone, 2003 was a fairly typical vintage, partly due to the fact that vines there thrive under the warm Provencal sun. Some critics, such as Robert Parker, rated 2003 as an "outstanding" vintage for the region, where "the most favored appellation was Chateauneuf-du-Pape."

The 2003 Domaine la Barroche Chateauneuf-du-Pape has a charming garnet red robe with a deep purple color. The nose expresses jammy black fruits and blackcurrant flavors accompanied with vanilla and spicy notes. A rich and fleshy start with an elegant, woody mouth. Generous with a lot of volume, the finish denotes tannins still a little bit firm. Drink now-2013.