Hello friends. There are many reasons why wines end up as exceptional values. We’ve explored a whole host of those reasons. But not this reason. This is a new one even for me: a wine that is an exceptional value in part thanks to a nuclear accident:
Grignan les Adhemer? What the hell is Grignan les Adhemer?
A very reasonable question. GlA is a sub-AOC of the Rhone Valley. Up until quite recently, it was called Coteaux du Tricastin. Then a teeny little accident happened at the Tricastin Nuclear Power Center in July 2008, where, you know, a mere five thousand gallons of uranium solution were spilled. I believe this guy was in charge of quality control.
Winemakers in Coteaux du Tricastin were horrified that the name “Tricastin” was now associated with a nuclear accident, and they petitioned for an AOC name change, which was approved in the blink of an eye by French wine bureaucracy standards. Two years later, starting with the 2010 vintage, Coteaux du Tricastin became Grignan les Adhemer.
Still, all the rigmarole of the accident and the name change has certainly suppressed the ability of this region to command fair prices for their wines. Add that to the fact that the importer who brings this producer in is located here in Seattle, and we end up with a wine that punches well above its price class.
The important thing to know about GlA is that it’s the northernmost AOC in the southern Rhone (see Rhone map here). The particular village that this wine comes from is Donzere (located here), which is basically equidistant from Chateauneuf-du-Pape to the south and Saint-Joseph to the north.
In other words, it’s between Grenache country and Syrah country. No surprise, then, that the blend here is 60% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 5% Cinsault. It’s grown on an alluvial former river-bed now filled with large rounded cobbles. Check out these pictures (one, two). If it wasn’t for Rozets having a green cover crop between the rows, you’d think you were looking at Cayuse Vineyards in the Walla Walla rocks; the soil type is essentially the same.
It was raised entirely in concrete (which gives many of the same oxygenating, softening effects of oak, but without any oaky flavors), and it comes soaring out of the glass with a funky, complex nose of green olive, meat, tar, and a big kick of Provencal: lavender, thyme, and other assorted underbrushy lovelies. The palate possesses a terrific earth-and-olive core, supplemented by briary raspberry fruit. It’s a medium-bodied (13.5% alc) easy drinker texturally, but with enough aroma and flavor complexity to easily belie the price point.
Part of what is beautiful about this wine is the vintage as well. While many Cotes-du-Rhones on the market right now are 2013s, this is a 2010, now four years past vintage and in prime drinking territory. It also comes from a year that received huge raves. Robert Parker, writing in Wine Advocate: “[TEXT WITHHELD].”
And it’s true: most 2010s from the southern Rhone are long gone, and we have access to the last parcel of this particular wine remaining in Seattle. I’m thinking I’ll just grab the whole thing, and if we don’t sell through it on this go-round, we’ll move the rest through a future Eliminator. I don’t want to let any of this go, in large part because it’s also the final vintage that our Seattle importer partner will be bringing into the United States. The winery was looking to raise its pricing for the 2011 vintage, and our importer decided to pass. A pity, and it only makes this wine that much more poignant.
Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.