Roussillon Grenache Blanc/Gris Cuvée

Here in the sunniest corner of southwestern France, after an earlier period of working abroad for other wineries, Jean-Marc Lafage and partner Eliane have followed in his father’s wine-making footsteps – establishing the sixth successful generation to take ownership for farming these historic vineyards in the Côtes du Roussillon. Arguably, the least selective AOC in the larger Roussillon region, it’s still best known for its abundant output of red wine and rosé. However, in the case of this vintner’s practices, somewhat less stringent official guidelines, and fewer entrenched traditions for fashioning their white wine allow for a more flexible, year to year recipe, particularly in the blending proportions of the allowable grape varieties.

The composition of 80% Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris (somewhat novel) is blended with 20% Roussanne and aged in both stainless steel tanks (70%), as well as, in new French oak barrels (30%). Their Grenache vines, averaging 90 yrs. of age, thrive in the ancient Quaternary soil (stony, gravelled) that lie within view of the Mediterranean seashore. Presumably, the significant maturity of the vine stock provides the namesake for this bottling called ‘Centenaire’ (Centennial).

The generally favourable terroir here is helped by the Tramontana winds that blow from the North-West, providing both a cooling and drying effect in the vineyards. In 2016, this vintner’s plots in Roussillon were mercifully spared the hail and frost that were otherwise widespread in France, making it a difficult harvest for many winemakers. Though Roussillon had less than desirable rainfall during the main growing season, the delayed harvest of smaller grape clusters allowed for enhanced acidity and a rich aromatic character. Despite having produced lower yields, 2016 is highly regarded as a banner year for quality.

Relatively new to the international market, this week’s DéClassé recommended offering, Domaine Lafage Cuvée Centenaire 2016, couldn’t be more attractively priced as a premium white wine. If you’re able to snap up a bunch, as you should if you’re a fan of fuller-bodied whites – then know that it will cellar well for at least 2 years or more.

Domaine Lafage

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #343491 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
14.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Midi, France
By: Domaine Lafage
Release Date: September 16, 2017

Tasting Note
With aromatic hints of vanilla and white fruit, this rich white wine has subtle citrus flavours with a flint-edged minerality derived from maritime soils. Try serving with food fare such as pasta carbonara, mild curries, ratatouille or fish dishes and mussels.

Côtes du Rhône Blanc Alert

Continuing in the focus on lesser-appreciated white wine styles that offer up
an engaging alternative to Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, this week’s
DéClassé recommended bottling is a reintroduction of Côtes du Rhône Blanc.
This distinctive version is produced by the Perrin Family who are unfortunately,
frequently mistaken as a bulk wine producer. They are actually a storied, local
vintner (currently 2 brothers) building on a legacy of a century of wine making.
180 hectares of vineyard including their Château de Beaucastel, are situated
between the Ouvèze and Aigues rivers in south-central France near Cairanne
and Joquieres. Five generations onward, the family owned winery has traditions
spanning several centuries. The current holdings represent steady, progressive
investments made since the early 1900’s that have with careful management
– now reached their full potential and terroir distinctiveness.

This is a fairly typical Rhône blend of unoaked, aromatic white varieties including
50% Grenache Blanc offering an acidic base, 20% Viognier and an equal parts
mix of Marsanne, Roussanne adding both aroma and texture. This combination
of grape characteristics coupled with bio-dynamic, unobtrusive wine-making
techniques, results in a crisp, fresh, medium bodied white that’s easy-drinking,
as well as, extremely versatile with food pairings.

This bottling is ready to drink now, but also cellarable for another couple more
years. Don’t over-chill, so as not to lose the depth of flavour available here. This
might be a refreshing add to your upcoming, Easter brunch event.

Perrin Fils Cotes Du Rhone Blanc

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #499509 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
13.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Rhône, France
By: Perrin & Fils
Release Date: Apr 12, 2014

Tasting Note
Dry, very fresh and nicely balanced with tropical fruit, stone fruit and almond
aromas and flavours. Try serving as apéritif or with pasta dishes and pan-fried
chicken, steamed mussels, clams or grilled fish.