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As Wine Advocate said when reviewing this benchmark estate's 2017 releases, "The consistent high quality of this estate's wines makes it a perennial favorite of mine. Don't overlook the various Côtes du Rhône bottlings, which often represent great value [and], which seem better every year." After three consecutive 90 point ratings for their Les Caillou bottling of Cotes du Rhone red, consistency is well appreciated in the very fine 2018 harvest!
As it has been for years, this "entry-level" Cotes du Rhone is a blend of most Grenache (about 85%) plus around 15% Syrah and the balance other Rhone red grapes. All come from vines averaging 60 years-old, and the wine continues to be fermented in tank and aged briefly in concrete before release. What's different, since 2017, is that now the Vacheron family and their winemaker, Bruno Gaspard, visit their friends and neighbors with a sample of Les Caillou in tow. There, they try the estate-grown wine with a splash of this or dash of that from each cellar, and invite those winemakers to comment on and help with the blend. The result is a wine that all agrees is both delicious and a great reflection of the Southern Rhone's vintage.
Here, that turns out to be a ripe, bold, wine that matches its deep fruit with joyful energy and an almost elegant finish. The aromas and flavors feature black cherry, black raspberry, and dark plum fruit that shows full, late-summer, ripeness but stays away from any hint of cooked/jammy character. The big fruit is matched by bold scents of what the residents of Provence call garrigue – the smell of wild thyme, lavender, rosemary and olive that sweeps across the Valley when the Mistrial blows. A dose of iron or and slate minerality and firm, velvety, tannins gives the wine shape and supports the long, delicious, finish. A wildly delicious Rhone red with remarkable class to match its sense of fun.
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