Vacqueyras, one of the Southern Rhone's baby Chateauneuf du Pape wines is starting to compete with Gigondas as the second wine of the area. Now starting to move away from it's rough and rustic image, Vacqueyras is taken more and more seriously by producer and critic alike. Not quite yet on par with Gigondas, the difference in price between the two is stark with top end Vacqueyras wines (like the two reviewed below) available for around £15, you can pay double this figure for a similar high quality Gigondas.
2006 is an interesting vintage for the Southern Rhone, and suffers (or benefits from, depending on whether you sell, grow or drink the wine) from being in between two top class vintages. If you're in the wine industry or a big wine geek you will know about the hype surrounding the Chateauneuf du Pape '07's. No bad thing for CnDP, Gigondas and Vacqueyras wines from 2006 as they now offer exceptional value (something like the '04 Bordeaux principle but really only among the wines from the best producers).
Vacqueyras is usually a wine fairly easy to distinguish with most producers in the area, even those that have moved into heavy bio-dynamie, eager to keep the wine true to its historical roots. Vacqueyras wines have always been dusty, tannic and rugged but as that style falls further out of fashion and with two very prestigious and fashionable neighbours in Cheateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas, Vacqueyras has had to pave a new road for itself and the two producers reviewed here today, Montirius and Perrin & Fils are both attempting to do just that but in rather different ways. Although both biodynamic producers, the two wines have been styled to appeal to two very different types of Vacqueyras drinker.
This isn't the first time I've tried the Montirius Vacqueyras 2006 Garrigues this year. The wine appeared in a Berry Bros and Rudd sponsored Twitter Taste Live event and went down a real storm, the wine was fruity, full of cherries and Walls vanilla but here I was three months later and this delightfully complex and expressive Vacqueyras had turned green in a matter of three months. Perhaps a case of bottle evolution, some kind of bottle fault or, if you believe in such things, perhaps it was a "veggie day"*
I gave the Montirius Vacqueyras Garrigues 2006, 91 Points on its last outing in August. Now in late November it appears to have completely changed and my score for it at this drinking window descends also. Remember as you read this review that this wine may just be entering a non drinking phase, the Montirius is a prestigious and fine Vacqueyras wine, in fact consistently one of the best of it's type produced annually.
Montirius Vacqueyras 2006 Garrigues - BUY (but don't drink today!) - £13.50
Deep ruby red in the glass. 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah the fruit today was hard to tease from the nose however the wine does stay true to the region with dusty earthy notes and a hint of blackberry and over-ripe raspberry. Mid bodied, the wine is green, tannic and austere on the palate with a mid length finish. A good structure but the under ripe taste is baffling. 84 Points
Perrin & Fils Vacqueyras Les Christins 2006 - BUY - £12.65
Ruby red in colour. The wine quickly offers a heady bouquet with knockout Blackberry jelly, vanilla and an interesting sweet note on the nose. On the palate the wine is smooth with fine ingrained tannins and is a very pleasant and well rounded Rhone wine though, if blind, would not have picked this wine as a Vacqueyras. 89 Points
There is a theory that slowly, year on year, wines are becoming more and more alike not simply because the technology of modern wine making is available to everyone and techniques/information is more easily shared but because wine producers are playing for points (critic's) and trying to appeal to an "international" palate (whatever that is). This presents a danger for an AOC like Vacqueyras if you are a purist and want your wines to reflect the nuances of the soil/climate and taste the way they have done for generations. However, if you are a producer in an area as prestigious as the Rhone but as unknown (to the general public) as Vacqueyras, you may be persuaded commercially to produce an every-Rhone wine and appeal to a mass market.
If you know you like Rhone wines and you're not fussy about every bottle being a clean and obvious example of its exact AOC then the Perrin & Fils will suit you better, easy to drink, obvious Rhone though not obvious Vacqueyras with a nice price tag too.
If you want an a true example of Vacqueyras or something to hold onto for a while and see the true potential of Vacqueyras then go for the Montirius.
Where can I buy these wines?
Both these wines are available at Berry Bros and Rudd.
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Do you have any examples of bad bottles or dumb periods? I don't know, aside from cork taint, a more disappointing end for a bottle of wine. I was so excited about the Montirius too *sigh*
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