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Grange des Pères Vertical

July 12, 2010

GRANGE DES PÈRES VERTICAL – Vin Vino Wine, Palo Alto, California (6/24/2010)


Founded in 1992, Grange des Pères is the most respected domaine in the entire Languedoc region, a fact confirmed in conversations with restaurateurs and other locals on my recent trip to the Languedoc. Former physiotherapist Laurent Vaillé planted his vines vines on stony south facing slopes of the vale of Gassac, near Aniane, next to Mas de Daumas Gassac. His winemaking training included stints with Gérard Chave, Eloi Durrboy and François Coche-Dury. Only two wines are made, the red and the white.

This tasting at Vin Vino (where interesting tastings are available daily; the monthly schedule can be found on their website: http:www.vinvinowine.com) was a rare opportunity to try six vintages of Grange des Pères in one sitting. I’m adding the seventh note, on the ’07, from my trip to the Languedoc a few weeks before. In most of the wines below, I found the Syrah and Mourvedre to be a lot more apparent than the smaller proportion of Cabernet. Many of the vintages were reminiscent of Northern Rhones–sometimes from Cornas, sometimes Crozes-Hermitage. They were tasty, with intriguing aromatics and complexity. They all seem to need at least five to six years of bottle age, but I’m not sure how capable they are of real long term aging. The oldest in this line up, the 2000, was already showing signs of advanced maturity. I have my doubts from this sample that they would go more than 12 to 15 years at most.

In sum, I liked the reds (the one vintage of white on hand was too oxidized to glean much from), but because they’ve become such a cult item in the Languedoc, I don’t think they’re quite worth the steep prices (running from $70 to $80 on release now), in comparison to wines with similar flavor profiles from Cornas or from Bandol that have a longer track record of aging beautifully. Still, it was great to have a chance to sample and compare seven vintages of these wine, which I’ve been hearing about for years.

Rouge

The red wine is made from about 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and roughly equal parts of Mourvedre and Syrah. Sometimes a little Counoise is added in too. The grapes are separately vinified and aged in a mixture of new and old wood before being assembled and allowed to rest in tank before being bottled, two and a half years after the vintage.

Tasted in the Languedoc:
2007 Domaine de la Grange des Pères Vin de Pays de l’Hérault – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault (5/27/2010) Dark red violet color; tart plum, green peppercorn, green herb, black fruit nose; complex, tasty, green herb, licorice, cinnamon, tart plum palate with depth, but lacking a little grip; medium finish (92 pts.)

Vin Vino Tasting

  • 2006 Domaine de la Grange des Pères Vin de Pays de l’Hérault – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault
    Very dark red violet color; roasted berry, sweet smoke, licorice, mulberry nose; very tight, smoke, red and black berry, charcoal palate; medium-plus finish (needs 4+ years) (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Domaine de la Grange des Pères Vin de Pays de l’Hérault – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault
    Very dark red violet color; roasted meat, brisket, bacon fat, tarragon nose; tasty, roasted meat, mince meat, smoke, tart black fruit, tarragon palate, like a mature but still fruited Cornas; medium-plus finish 93+ pts. (93 pts.)
  • 2004 Domaine de la Grange des Pères Vin de Pays de l’Hérault – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault
    Dark red violet color; herb, pepper, garrigue, Necco wafer, licorice, charcoal nose; a little tight, tart black fruit, pepper, garrigue, white pepper palate; medium-plus finish (needs 2 years) (93 pts.)
  • 2003 Domaine de la Grange des Pères Vin de Pays de l’Hérault – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault
    Dark red violet color; lovely blackberry, green peppercorn, garrigue nose; tart black fruit, garrigue, lavender palate, a little tight yet, much like the ’06; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2001 Domaine de la Grange des Pères Vin de Pays de l’Hérault – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault
    Very dark red violet color; mature, bacon fat, lamb jus, sage nose; mature, earthy, meat jus, tobacco palate, like an older St. Joseph or Crozes-Hermitage; medium-plus finish 92+ pts. (92 pts.)
  • 2000 Domaine de la Grange des Pères Vin de Pays de l’Hérault – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault
    Dark red violet color; mature, light tobacco, chewing tobacco, meat jus, mineral, smoke nose; quite mature tasting, meat jus, tobacco palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)

Blanc

This GdP white is made mostly from Roussanne, with a touch of Chardonnay (and previously, some Marsanne). The fact that Roussanne is prone to oxidation may help explain why both bottles of ’02 we sampled were prematurely oxidized. One bottle, however, was noticeably better than the other. The wine is barrel fermented in demi-muids rather than barriques, to minimize the oak influence.

  • 2002 Domaine de la Grange des Pères Vin de Pays de l’Hérault Blanc – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault
    1st bottle – dark amber color; oxidized, sherried, nutty nose; oxidized, creamy textured, hazelnut, sherried, almond palate with some character yet; medium finish
    2nd bottle – even more oxidized, sweet butter palate; medium finish 86 pts. (88 pts.)
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