Hello friends. Today, we’ve got a truly French offering for you. This wine—with its exceptional palate, storied past, and killer price—has that certain je ne sais quoi that gets our team excited about offering sub-20 dollar Rhone wines.
Now, it wouldn’t be a story about something French without a little intrigue—a devastating twist of fate, regrowth, passion, reinvention. The French are famous for a beautifully crafted story, and Domaine Lombard is one of them.
So, let’s begin! The Drôme valley is a funky little wine region with a big history. Up until the turn of the 20th century, it was filled with healthy vineyards and exceptional wines that could claim a price as high as anything from neighboring Hermitage (which is a high price!). Perhaps some cosmic being decided Brézème and the Drôme needed to be cut down a peg—or maybe it was just stupid, bad luck — but the whole region was hit with a debilitating case of Phylloxera (terrible little bugs that eat vines) in the early 1900s that killed 95% of the vineyards. With the world wars that closely followed and the fact that it was less work and money to grow other fruit, most farmers simply gave up on grapes at the thought of replanting.
Fast forward a few decades. In the early 1970’s, Jean-Marie Lombard took over ownership of his family vineyards in Drôme (there was only 1 hectare—about 2 ½ acres—left!) and slowly started to plant again. Lombard’s planting, and encouragement of other farmers to do the same, is thought to be responsible for bringing back an entire region on the verge of extinction. As he continued to grow, he built his winery and focused on the traditional grapes from the region. In 2011, Jean-Marie retired and two young winemakers, Julien and Emmanuelle Montagnon, took over the winery. Seven of the hectares they own and operate are in Brézème, and two are outside the appellation and classified as Vin de Pays de la Drôme. The couple has followed in Jean-Marie’s pioneering footsteps and started to build—beginning with an entirely organic and biodynamic system and state-of-the-art winery, where they make exceptional Syrah-heavy wines, including the Vin de Pays de la Drôme La Renommée Red.
2014 Domaine Lombard Vin de Pays de la Drome La Renommee
Originally launched in 2012 as ‘La Côte,’ Domaine Lombard was forced to change the name because it bared too much a resemblance to “Côte Rôtie.” They opted for La Re-Nommée—the re-named—which seems much more fitting for a wine coming from a region with a redemption story like this.
Consider this Syrah (with a full 10% Viognier coferment) a “baby Côte Rôtie”—slightly floral with strong fruit and a touch of savory for only a third of the price. It opens with a nose full of crushed blackberries and blueberries, lilac, freshly ground pepper, a touch of salt—like a newly opened box of saltine crackers—and a little bit of old world funk. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with a kick of fruit-forward acidity and balanced tannins. The finish revisits the salt and pepper of the nose, leaving you with a touch of spice. This drinks like a considerably more expensive wine than its $15 price would indicate.
Before getting to us, the grapes are whole cluster fermented in stainless steel and aged for a year in cement tanks. La Renomméeis ready to be consumed young—not to take up space in a cellar. Think of this as a wine for Tuesday… or Thursday… or any day, really.
I would pair La Renommée with all types of charcuterie, hard cheeses, and basically any kind of meat. Seriously—host a dinner party and make roast lamb? Drink this wine. Grab a couple Dick’s burgers on your way home from the office? Drink this wine. Make a grilled cheese with gouda for the kids? Don’t give them any, obviously, but make one for yourself and then drink this wine.
First come first served up to 12 bottles total, and the wine should arrive at the warehouse in a week or two, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.