No apologies for yet another 2001 from the south
of France. This is a magic combination and I urge you to buy
as much as you can while it is still available, for in broad
brushstrokes, 2002 was too wet and 2003 too dry in southern France.
There will of course be many exceptions to these sweeping statements
but is it not a joy to come across an easy shortcut, 2001 and
the south of France, to reliable quality?
This wine comes from that useful zone that straddles the southern
Rhône and the far eastern Languedoc where both Grenache and
Syrah, the two varieties which make up this impressive wine, thrive.
It's made on a 72 hectare/178 acre domaine that is called Les Vignes
de l'Arque and can claim seven generations of care just north of
Uzès, the small market near the extraordinary Roman aquaduct
that is the Pont du Gard that is eulogised by Elizabeth David in
An Omelette and a Glass of Wine .
What struck me about this wine when I tasted it was how vibrant
and bursting with energy it seems. Only later did I learn that
it is made from organically cultivated vineyards. There is great
depth of colour and that glossy, savoury character of ripe Syrah
together with the fruity ballast and marked tannins of dry-farmed
Grenache. I reckon this wine will continue to improve - not bad
for its price - and would drink it, with strong-flavoured food,
over the next three years.
I much preferred this Vin de Pays, by the way, to the same
producer's more expensive Cuvee Boissières, yet another
Merlot/Cabernet blend which is so obviously not nearly as home
in this part of the world as the Rhône varieties. The producer
Patrick Fabre tells me that wheels are in motion to promote Vin
de Pays Duché d'Uzès to VDQS, although personally
I'm not sure all that bureaucracy is worth it.