2011 D. de la Renjarde Cotes du Rhone Villages Massif d’Uchaux

Hello friends. Has there been some kind of mistake?

That was my first thought after I tasted today’s wine and then heard the tariff. Here’s why:

Last December, we offered the 2010 vintage of this wine as one of our final offers of the year. We grabbed the last available parcel, set order limits to 6 bottles, and sent it out. As it happened, max allocations ended up being a mere 3 bottles per list member, and lots of late orders (and all reorder requests) had to be zeroed out.

There was huge interest in the wine, and no wonder: it was baby Chateauneuf for $19.99 TPU. Now Domaine de la Renjarde is back with the new vintage, and it comes with a new tariff:

Yikes. I double- and triple-checked, and this is indeed the new tariff.

Now for some reminders on what this wine’s all about. First, a quick primer on Cotes du Rhone (CdR) and Cotes du Rhone Villages (CdRV). A CdR can come from a broad swath of the Rhone Valley. It can be mostly Grenache (often), mostly Syrah (sometimes), mostly Mourvedre (rarely). Quality is all over the map.

Then there’s CdR Villages. Wines can just be labeled Cotes du Rhone Villages, which means they come from land generally considered to be a step up from Cotes du Rhone. Another step up the ladder, there are the Cotes du Rhone Villages that have a named village appended. This both increases and reduces confusion. Increases because there are a full *eighteen* named villages currently allowed, and with my brain still in taking-care-of-newborn mode, I can barely count to eighteen. And decreases because it drastically narrows the piece of land that we’re looking at, and we can start to identify which villages are more interesting than others.

One of the most recently added villages is Massif d’Uchaux, and it’s also one of the most compelling. Why? Because it’s as close a named village as we have to Chateauneuf-du-Pape (see location here).

Renjarde (specifically located here) has its roots in Chataeuneuf. It is owned by the Richard family, proprietors of the outstanding Chateauneuf producer Chateau La Nerthe, as well as Prieure de Montezargues in Tavel. The vineyard is more than 40 years old, majority Grenache rounded out with Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignan. In 2011, the blend is 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, and 5% each Mourvedre and Carignan, and it was fermented and aged in a combination of concrete and stainless steel, so there’s no oak influence here whatsoever.

For me, this is a great ringer to slip into a Cheateauneuf du Pape tasting. It has the wonderful Provencal scent: the brushy garrigue, the floral lavender and cherry blossom, the resinous mint, all framing a core of pure black raspberry and rocky mineral. What I especially like about this is that it’s a ringer not for modern (over-rich, over-alc’d) CdP, but for classic CdP. Alcohol is right around 14%, and the whole package is balanced, classy, with a great cooling mineral tone to balance Grenache’s fleshy fruit. There’s sneaky back-end chew, loads of complexity, and terrific palate-weight. “Ultra impressive” says my note, and I would have happily offered this again for closer to $20. At today’s tariff, it’s a house wine candidate.

We’re getting in earlier this time, so I believe we can open up the max orders. A little bit anyway. 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.

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