Hello friends. Here is my vow to you. When I am presented with a yay/nay decision on a wine, where there is a clear benefit to our list members, and the only drawback is that I look stupid, I will take a deep breath, put on my dunce hat, and say yay. Every time.
Including today. Back in August, we sent out a “last call” e-mail for what I believe is our most popular import wine of all time. I had been told that the August parcel was the last that would arrive in Seattle. Ever.
So when an unexpected bonus parcel landed in September, I faced a choice: 1) ignore it completely, save face, and deny our list members another reorder opportunity; or 2) buy it, figure out what to do with it, and probably end up looking foolish. As you’ve probably guessed by now, I went with option 2:
This is last call on this wine. No seriously. I mean it! We ended up buying the entire available stash in September, and I figured I would squirrel it away and offer it as a holiday treat. To the best of my knowledge, no more magical parcels have arrived, and I don’t foresee any arriving in the future.
And as you might remember, this is also last call on this project. The Ricard family (behind Chateau La Nerthe in Chateauneuf-du-Pape) is giving up stewardship of the Renjarde project and instead moving their efforts towards their $20-something Cotes du Rhone Villages. Which is no slouch itself (I tasted it recently), but which is priced appropriately. Whereas, I think we can all agree, Renjarde has always been priced inappropriately.
Renjarde had already been popular from the previous 2010 vintage as a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape for $19.99. And then the winery dropped the price further with the 2011, which I didn’t understand at the time, but now makes sense considering they were looking to close out the brand.
One of the most recently added villages to the eighteen allowed in Cotes-du-Rhone 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. Renjarde 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.
The wine 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 at sub-$15, it has become a house wine for many of our list members.
Please send us your requests, with no upper limits (it is last call, after all), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.