A “Bold” Year For Deep and Impressive Vacqueyras
Expect “tons of pleasure over the coming decade” from the 2015 Domaine Colline Saint Jean Vacqueyras, says The Wine Advocate’s former Rhône expert, Jeb Dunnuck. Vacqueyras has been on the way up for decades, gaining ground as one of the go-to appellations in the Rhône for those seeking its trademark fruit, spice, and herbs while steering clear of Châteauneuf prices. The 2015 season in the Southern Rhône was “picture-perfect” according to Vinous and this “impressively textured,” “smokin’ good” Grenache-dominated beauty is proof that Vacqueyras is in the big leagues and a star of the vintage. Spectator’s unequivocal advice for Rhône enthusiasts on the 2015s: “This is one of those rare vintages where consumers can almost buy with abandon.” We agree with every word — except the almost. But exercise no restraint in locking into at least a case of this precise black and blue fruited, cracked pepper and dried wildflower beauty given it’s $24.99 price tag.
In the last half of the twentieth century, the Rhône Valley producers whose ripe, sun-baked fruit had been going into large-production Côtes du Rhône began to assert themselves and close the gap on Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 2015 was especially kind to Vacqueyras — approved as an AOC as far back as 1990, the appellation is set out amidst the foothills of the remarkable Dentelles de Montmirail limestone-studded mountains. Decanter called 2015 a “bold year,” and Vinous commented about the consistency in Vacqueyras in this all-but-perfect vintage.
High-scoring Domaine de la Colline Saint. Jean is one of a small handful of superstar estates in Vacqueyras that regularly outpoint most of Châteauneuf-du-Pape - a stellar vintage like 2015 is just one more reason to sock some away. The 50-year-old Grenache vines on the Alazards’ 14 hectares in Vacqueyras are hand-harvested, and produce gorgeous, concentrated fruit that is vinified traditionally in concrete and large oak. Wine Spectator’s jaw-dropping 97-point vintage has been echoed by all critics in that 2015 presented ideal conditions. Those looking for Châteauneuf-type richness and spice need look no further.