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Bulletin Detail
Date April 3, 2018 
Title The Sensational 2016 Southern Rhônes from Domaine Palon 
Bulletin Untitled Page

Dear Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club Member:

Last May, Hélène and I once again had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Palons (that’s Noé, Sébastien and Marie Line waiting for us outside their tasting room) in Gigondas where we gleefully sampled their latest creations from the superb 2016 vintage. It was an arduous task, but it simply had to be done. Domaine Palon is one of our favourite wineries. They produce wonderful, elegant wines and their most recent elixirs certainly live up to their well-earned reputation.

The Wines of Domaine Palon

We are delighted to once again offer you the wondrous southern Rhônes from Domaine Palon – this time from the truly outstanding 2016 vintage - the 2016 Côtes-du-Rhone ‘Cuvée Esparza’; 2016 Vacqueyras Rouge; 2016 Vacqueyras ‘Blanc du Bary’, and; 2016 Gigondas Rouge. All currently come in six-bottle cartons (we hope the LCBO will soon make them available by the bottle; so you can mix and match!). Please let me know if you would like me to place your orders directly with for you.

2016 Côtes du Rhône ‘Cuvée Esparza’ – Domaine Palon – 16.0% Alc./Vol.  LCBO Product No. 479369  $20.90/$125.40 per 6 bottle case
This is an excellent Côtes-du-Rhone from a great year. Yes, that alcohol content at 16% is correct. This is a bit of a monster. It is comprised of 69% Grenache, 16% Syrah and 15% Cinsault, all hand-picked and hand-sorted from the Palon’s five acres of vineyards in Vacqueyras. The yield was only 15 hl/ha! It is a dark and lustrous ruby red with hints of violet. The nose is of pronounced aromas of ripe cherries, plums, black currants, garrigue (the fragrant underbrush of Southern France), smoke, new leather, cassis and a hint of pepper. In the mouth it is very big, round and satisfying with delicate tannins and good length. Served slightly chilled (16°-17°C), it will go splendidly with roasts, grilled meats and medium cheeses. It will keep for three to five years.

2016 Vacqueyras ‘Blanc du Bary’ – Domaine Palon - 13.5% Alc./Vol.  LCBO Product No. 479385 $28.75/$172.50 per 6 bottle case
Crafted from 80% Clairette and 20% Grenache Blanc, all hand-picked from vines averaging more than forty-five years of age. The yield was but 13 hl/ha! It has seen some new oak, but not too much. It is a clear, bright yellow-gold colour with a vibrant nose of grilled almonds, peaches, pears, honeysuckle, vanilla, exotic spices, toast and minerals. It is very smooth and extremely well balanced – lots of fruit offset by a gorgeous acidity. It is fresh, complex and rich with wonderful flavours of peaches and pears. It would be perfect, served at about 8°C, with oysters, other shell fish, fish, goat cheese and rich poultry dishes. Meant to be drunk young.

2016 Vacqueyras Rouge – 15.0% Alc./Vol.  LCBO Product No. 479377  $29.95/$179.70 per 6 bottle case
This gorgeous, medium-bodied wine is made from 75% Grenache, 16% Mourvèdre and 9% Syrah, hand-picked from vines averaging more than forty-five years of age. The Mourvèdre and Syrah were aged in large oak casks for twelve months. It is a deep, pure garnet with complex aromas of plums, prunes, raspberries, black cherries, currants, new leather, Provençal spices with a note of black pepper and cloves. In the mouth it is fresh and lively with surprising complexity and excellent balance. And, oh those delicate, silky Palon tannins. This wine has lots of character, depth and substance and will go beautifully with roasted fowl and charcuterie. This lovely concoction is a real pleasure to drink right now and will continue to be so for another eight to ten years.

2016 Gigondas Rouge – 15.0% Alc./Vol.    LCBO Product No. 479393     $32.95/$197.70 per 6 bottle case

This elegant Gigondas is made from 79% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 6% Mourvèdre hand-picked from seven hectares of vines averaging well over fifty years of age. The Syrah and Mourvèdre are aged for twelve months in new oak casks. It is a pure purple with a lustrous sheen and offers up pronounced aromas of blackberries, black cherry jam, pepper, roasted coffee beans, garrigue, pepper, clove and licorice. It is surprisingly big and velvety in the mouth with gentle tannins and a long, perfumed finish. I’d like to see another six months to a year on it to get everything in proper balance. Served just below room temperature, this most impressive wine will go perfectly with magrets de canard, wild game, roasts and medium cheeses. I’d decant it for at least an hour before drinking. It will cellar well for ten to fifteen years.


Domaine Palon

The estate is located just below the fairy tale village of Gigondas between Orange and Vaison-la-Romaine in the heart of Provence. The property covers fifteen hectares: seven devoted to Gigondas; five to Vacqueyras; two to Côtes du Rhône, and; one to table wine. The Palons produce a very limited quantity of superb wine each year.

Marie Line and Sébastien Palon with
my very pleased sous-taster
Domaine Palon is a real family affair with a century-long grape growing tradition. Back in 1915, Valérie and Léopold Palon were wine makers in Gigondas and their son Jean founded the Cave Coopérative de Gigondas and served as its administrator from 1956 to 1978. His son, Jean-Pierre took over the reins of the co-op in 1978 (Jean-Pierre’s wife Annie was the financial director) and ran it until 2001, all the while selling his grapes to the same co-op. When Jean-Pierre’s son Sébastien graduated from oenology school, the family decided to leave the co-op and start making their own wines. 2003 was their first vintage.

Sébastien has turned out to be a wine-making magician, crafting elegant, exquisite potions from vines averaging over fifty years of age. Sébastien’s wife Marie Line looks after the winery’s administrative duties and manages the gift shop while the latest addition to the vinous dynasty, their son Noé makes regular guest appearances around the property.          

From what we saw and learned from our vintners during the harvest and from our extensive, self-sacrificing barrel sample tastings last spring, 2016 looks to be a very special year n the Southern Rhône. It was a hot summer and the Grenache ripened beautifully. Time will tell, but I can hardly wait to try them (which we will be doing all this April; work, work, work!).

It would be really spiffy if you would pass this note on to anyone you think might be interested in some very, very good Southern Rhônes.

Many thanks and cheers!

Jim, Hélène and Kate