Domaine de la Garrigue Vacqueyras 2004 Tasting Notes
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Domaine de la Garrigue Vacqueyras 2004 Tasting Notes

I am tempted to recommend this hardy Rhône red with a roast lamb done to a turn in rosemary and thyme, but why bother with all that meat when you get these flavors and a lot more in this accessible $16 wine? Vacqueyras used to be (from 1937) one of those villages that qualified for Côte du Rhône-Villages status but it was rightfully advanced to its own appellation in the 1990s. Some consider Vacqueyras the poor man's Gigondas, but why not enjoy both neighbors without forcing the two to compete?

The French term “Garrigues” signifies the kind of scrubland that tends to grow wild herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme; Roves des Garrigues goat cheese from the region is known for these same herbal notes. The Bernard family (which also run a fine hotel and restaurant in Gigondas called Les Florets) has been passing these vineyards down through a number of generations. Their grapes are predominantly Grenache (75% of this wine, and a minimum of 50% in this appellation) with the remainder Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault. The grapes are hand-picked, and vinified selon les méthodes ancestrales with neither fining nor filtering. Warned by the label about possible sediment, I didn't note any, having decanted three hours.

The first note on the nose of this entirely dry wine is spice—black pepper—quickly followed by the rosemary, thyme, and some real Mediterranean laurel (bay leaf); I could add a note of sweet marjoram. The fruit is a complex mix of black berries, cherries and cassis, though on the finish a concentrated red cherry fruit that has been waiting in the wings all along sees things through, carried by firm tannins. The most delightful aspect of the wine—vegetarians please leave the room—is the roasted meat—that lamb once again, and have we forgotten those little bits of country bacon? I can revise the initial reference to roast; stew it, if that suits you. At 15% alcohol, there is a bit of heat, but it is well conveyed.

Verdict: True to type
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Once you move south from Bordeaux and Burgundy, the wines almost scream “please buy a case before everybody else moves in on the secret!”

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award


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