2005 Domaine de la Citadelle Les Artemes Cotes du Luberon
In today's wine world, few estates hold their wines back, preferring to release them quickly, preserving precious cash flow. So when one discovers an excellent estate making really ageworthy reds that is actually willing to hold back its best cuvees, we take notice. When that estate continually comes out with wonderfully pure wines that combine the suave fruit of the northern Rhone with the robustness of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, we stay in close contact, ready to act on any new release. So we were all ears when Alexis Rousset-Rouard told us that he was going to give us first shot at the 2005 Domaine de la Citadelle Artemes -- a brilliant blend of hillside Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre (and a splash of old vine Carignane) from one of the most astonishing and ageworthy vintages in memory. When he told us how much it cost, we just asked "how much can we get?"
Remember Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence?" Or Russell Crowe in "A Good Year?" Both the book and the movie are set in Menerbes, one of the most magical spots of Provence. Much of the magic of Menerbes is aromatic. Nowhere on those gorgeous hillsides, covered with vines, lavender and garrigue, is aroma more in play than in the region's most magical wine estate -- Domaine de la Citadelle.
Citadelle is made up of a carefully developed patchwork quilt of 65 small parcels set at 1,000 feet in elevation. Less than 1/2 hour from Chateauneuf on the eastern side of the Rhone, the climate at Citadelle is somewhat cooler than Chateauneuf. In vintages like the warm, arid growing season of 2005, the slightly cooler days and nights gave birth to wines that have the sweetness of Chateauneuf, but with more moderate alcohol levels, allowing for gorgeous wines of impeccable balance.
Why did we jump all over the 2005 Artemes? Three things. First, the wine is flat out delicious, combining deep red fruit concentration with excellent acid balance. Second, just smelling the wine is worth the price of admission. The extra two years in bottle has allowed the glorious aromatics of these hillsides to really come out. Third, the wine is priced seemingly without consideration for the extra cellaring time. There are too few wines we see with this much intensity and complexity.
Tasting Notes from the WineAccess Travel Log
Domaine de la Citadelle
"Blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and almost equal parts of Mourvedre and Carignane. Deep purple color. Wonderful aromas of red fruits and garrigue. The wine is just shedding its sweet primary fruit nose, offering a cornucopia of ripe fruit and fresh field herb complexity. Rich red fruit on the palate. Lots of concentration layered over hints of thyme and garrigue. Long finish that doesn't let go. Perfect drinking now, but won't move much for another year or two. Drink now-2012."