2007 Cotes du Roussillon Vieilles Vignes

Domaine Gauby

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Average rating 94.5

Assembled into a foudre when I tasted it, the Gauby 2007 Cotes du Roussillon Villages Vieilles Vignes – relatively equally divided among Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah with a smaller amount of Mourvedre, and exposed to around 20% new wood – smells of thyme, rosemary, fennel, and tar, along with ripe black fruits. With a bitter edge to its almost severe palate concentration of cassis, blackberry, juniper berry, resinous herbs, licorice, and tar, this strikingly dense, palate-staining cuvee exhibits a juiciness of fresh fruits and exuberance, as well as a refinement of tannins, that distinguish all of the best recent Gauby wines, and that keep it from austerity. Nor – amid a virtual torrent of finishing fruit – is a diversity of impressions missing that, while hard-to-describe, can only be categorized as mineral. I would anticipate being rewarded by bottles of this for 12-15 years. ||Gerard Gauby (increasingly assisted by his son Lionel) continues – restlessly, experimentally, but with obvious focus – to pursue his rigorous biodynamic viticultural regimen as well as his stylistic ideals of elegance, refinement, distinctive minerality, and moderate alcohol, none of which – he demonstrates – are incompatible with ripe flavors and sheer density. (One stunningly floral and fruit-filled lot of 2008 Grenache destined for Muntada was harvested at a record-low 13.3% alcohol.) The key quality factor in stony, sun-drenched Roussillon, Gauby opines, is density of root structure sufficient to support steady vine metabolism, because shut-down or stop-start maturation under stress is what ultimately causes tannins to harden and pH and sugars to rise independently of maturation. Reds here from the last five vintages are more exciting then ever, if stylistically distinct from their more obviously robust and alcoholically-rich predecessors. Gauby has been the regional leader in white wines as well, which seem especially to benefit from the high-elevation and mixture of schistic and chalky soils around the town of Calc. A recently-acquired parcel of Grenache Gris vines planted in 1947 that he is “restoring” represents, says Gauby, the last such acreage available in his neighborhood. Propagation of cuttings will take a long time to mature to the point where they bear outstanding fruit, and he has enough old vines to keep him entirely busy and supplied. Apropos white grapes and young vines, Gauby is inter-planting Malvoisie with some of his red vines to achieve an effect similar to that conferred by the occasional blanc and gris vines that are a feature of Roussillon’s oldest remaining stands of Carignan and Grenache. Incidentally, there is an utterly alluring Gauby 2004 vendange tardive still in barrel, subtly oxidizing. Wine Advocate.June, 2009

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