Domaine de la Garrigue is one of the oldest estates in the southern Rhone Valley region and is owned by the Bernard family. The family owns one of the most famous restaurants and inns in the area
called "Les Florets" which is located on the hillside facing the Dentelles in Gigondas. Fashioning some of the most beautiful bottlings of Vacqueyras, Eric Solomon worked with the property to create a custom cuvee of Cotes du Rhone from de-classified Vacqueyras called "Cuvee Romaine."
The climate in the Southern Rhone is extremely warm in the summer, with consistent temperatures in the 90's during July and August. This makes rich, full-bodied, and spicy wines. The soil is similar to that of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, with massive rocks called "galets" dotting the vineyards. The old bush vines of Garrigue are planted on
these "galets" and for most of the vineyards, there is not soil present to the eye, just
This property focuses on making wines with minimal manipulation to let the terroir speak through the wines. The old vines of Domaine de la Garrigue were planted in the late 1940's, just after the Germans left the area following the second World War. Before the war, the area was planted primarily to other crops, including sunflowers and tomatoes. However, the Romans were making wine here centuries ago and shipping it hundreds of miles away. Hence, the cuvee name "Cuvee Romaine".
Learn More About Rhone Red Blends
The Rhone region of France has a delightful selection of red varieties. There are 22 grapes allowed in the Rhone AOC, about half of them red. Most of these varieties are used as secondary blending partners, often comprising less than 10% of the blend. The primary red players of Rhone blends are Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Most wines from the Southern Rhone use Grenache as their primary grape, while Rhone blends in California and Australia like to change up the order, occasionally using a high percentage of Syrah or sometimes Mourvèdre. Wines from the Northern Rhone are Syrah-based, and if not 100% Syrah, the wine may have Viognier blended in for added color and aromatics. Typical wines termed "rhone blends" will have two or more grapes from the Rhone and occasionally, small percentages of the secondary varieties.
Notable Facts Rhone Blends are a wonderful combination of rustic and ripe - showing their flavors and delicious character upon release, although some Rhone wines, particularly those with a good amount of Syrah, are able to age for a few years. Australia's Rhone blends are often called "GSM" or "SGM" - using the initials of the grapes used, the most predominant variety being the first initial. Australia has also had great success with their Northern Rhone Shiraz+Viognier wine styles. You'll find delicious Rhone blends in California as well - the Central Coast and Santa Barbara regions have a similar climate to the Rhone, and the varietals flourish there. South Africa is another blossoming Rhone blend producer. Blends from all regions are good with juicy, gamey meats and food with common French spices, like rosemary or herbs de Provence.
Summing it up Successful Sites: Rhone, California, Australia, South Africa
Common Descriptors: Gamey, jammy, blackberry, pepper, leather
Learn More About Vacqueyras, Rhone, France
Once just a Cotes-du-Rhone village, the wine of Vacqueyras made its mark and in 1990, gaining its own appellation. The wine is somewhat similar to its northern neighbor, Gigondas, and occasionally even more rustic. Vacqueyras wine gives off the flavors of the earth where the vines grow - wild herbs, spice and rocky soil.
Like other Southern Rhone wine, Grenache is the main player here, and a minimum of 50% of the varietal is required, allowing the blend more room for varietals like Syrah and Mourvedre. Often found for good value prices, these wines are perfect for hearty meat stews and herb-based dishes.