2017 Cave des Vigerons d’Esterzargues Domaine la Périllière Costières de Nîmes
Region: Costières de Nîmes < Rhone Valley < France
Grapes: Syrah, Grenache
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; destemmed and fermented for 6 days then strained off and matured in stainless steel vat, on fine lees, for 7 months; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal added So2; 14% ABV
Winemaker: Denis DeschampsCostieres de Nimes, the most southerly vineyard region in the Cotes du Rhone, is where this small co-operative, Les Vignerons d’Estézargues, is based -- spitting distance from the beautiful city of Avignon (where there's a cool Papal palace). Co-ops are big in France, and the model is generally this: members grow and sell grapes to the co-op, which blends them all together to make wine, with the emphasis -- and financial incentives -- based on quantity. Les Vignerons d’Estézargues, which pays based on quality vs. quantity, is very different. It's ten different growers must farm organically. Then they vinify their wine separately and make single cuvées from the best plots, so the co-op serves more as a custom crush facility. They're also one of the only co-ops to practice natural winemaking, using no cultured yeasts, no filtering, no fining and no enzymes during vinification or aging, adding only small amount of SO2 at bottling.
This bright Syrah/Grenache blend comes from a single domaine, Domaine de la Périllière -- and the adorable label was drawn by the local school children. It smells peppery and herbal, like old-school southern Rhône red should, and tastes just as classic and honest. Juicy raspberries, tart cherry, leather and those meaty Syrah notes play nicely with rustic tannins and a friendly grip. Best with a quick chill (15 min should do) and something meaty or grilled.