In the second week of le Tour the racers followed a route through Southern France. Along the way they passed straight through the Rhone Valley without stopping to enjoy the wine. Such a pity!
To compensate for the Tour's lack of culinary interest, I decided to stop off for a battle royale in Gigondas. Meanwhile, the tour raced up Mt. Ventoux on Bastille day where lots of crazy ensued.
2014 Rotie Cellars Southern Blend v. Arnout & Fils Gigondas 2012 Vieux Clocher
Tale of the Tape
Rotie Cellars 2014 Southern Blend
70% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah
With 2014 being a warmer vintage additional Mourvedre was included in this year's Southern Blend. The typical percent has been 5-10% in past vintages.
Vineyard sources include: Alder Ridge, Upland, Wallula and Den Hoed.
Aged for 14-16 months in 2nd and 3rd use French Oak barrels.
Provided as a sample by the winery. Available at retail for $48.
2012 Arnot & Fils Gigondas Vieux Clocher
65% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre
Aged for 6 - 12 months in French Oak.
Purchased at Esquin for $24.99.
Round 1. First opening
Rotie enters the ring with a chip on its shoulder, seeking revenge for the last Lucha Vino bout that ended in a controversial loss. This time the Washington State Luchador is taking no chances taking the fight straight to the Giant of Gigondas.
The Rotie Southern Blend fires off with a nose of dark raspberry, dusty currants and some smoky, savary umami overtones. The palate is showing equal power with dark berries and smoky savory mineral notes followed by cracked pepper that lingers on to the dark, oily, black olive finish.
Vieux Clocher from Gigondas isn't backing down. This French challenger is muscling up with a nose that features funky forest floor, mushrooms and musty dark berries. The palate is dark and spicy with blue berry, earthy spicy tobacco leaf and a dry tannin fueled finish that repeats the tobacco leaf character.
Round 1 goes to Rotie Cellars based on a furious opening attack.
Round 2. One hour after opening
Slightly shaken, the Gigondas Giant is stumbling around the ring trying to regain its composure. Even though the French Luchador is stunned, it is searching for a counter attack and evolving with a nose that continues to show blue berries and earthy herbal tobacco leaf. The palate is darker with heavier notes of blue berry and tobacco leaf along with notes of light pepper that lead to a dry finish that is dominated by tobacco notes.
Round 2 also goes to Rotie Cellars following that near knockout of the Vieux Clocher.
Round 3. One day after opening
It looks like Rotie Cellars has this match in the bag after two strong opening rounds. But, you never know what might happen in the Lucha Vino ring...
And it looks like the Rotie Cellars Luchador knows that it is best to leave nothing to chance. Still smarting from that last loss, this Washington State heavyweight is taking no chances.
Rotie Cellars is pulling out all the stops and showing plenty of stamina with a nose of oily dark berries and briny savory olive notes that mingle with hints of orange zest. The palate is stepping it up too, with dark smoky berries and cracked pepper that are followed by a savory finish built on notes of cracked pepper and earthy mineral tones.
The Vieux Clocher is searching for vengeance and a knockout blow. Shifting styles once again, the nose is showing blue berries, meadow flowers and herbal citrus undertones. The palate remains bold with flavorful notes of blueberry, spicy herbal tobacco leaf and hints of cracked pepper that carry over on a long, drawn out, finish.
The View Clocher definitely stepped up its game in the third round. Sadly, it was not enough to undermine the dominance of the Washington State Luchador. Rotie Cellars takes round 3 and the match!
Wrap up and Overall Observations
Both of these wines are tasting great right now and will continue to get better with a few more years under their belts.
The Rotie Cellars Southern Blend really showed off the dark and savory character that Washington Syrahs are starting to be noted for.
The Vieux Clocher from Gigondas offered a slightly subtler counterpoint to the darkness of the Rotie Cellars with more notes of blueberry in the mix. It also showed the spicy tobacco leaf flavors that I have come to associate with wines of the Southern Rhone.
Drink these wines now, and in years to come. You will not be disappointed!