From 100 year-old, pre-phylloxera Carignan vines and 60-80 year old Grenache, plus a bit of Syrah.
Hints of game and marjoram, smoky black tea and kelp add intrigue on a long, buoyant, saliva-inducing finish. Bottled in February along with the corresponding Vieilles Vignes, Gauby's 2009 Cotes du Roussillon Villages Muntada - 50% from centenarian Carignan vines; 40% from ancient Grenache; the rest Syrah, half of it matured in a new foudre - smells intensely of incense, coniferous scrub, mulberry, blackberry and game (indeed, some fruit purists are going to think this kept too close company with hoofed animals). Rich and baritonal, it saturates the palate with lightly-cooked, for the vintage, by surprisingly tart-edged black fruits underlain by garrigue, peat, toasted nuts, and crushed stone. The tannins here are vanishingly fine-grained, yet present as part of an overall sense of density that by no means precludes levity. Maritime alkaline and saline finishing notes stimulate salivation in a finish whose intrigue, buoyancy, and profoundly reverberative complexity I find it hard to doubt somehow reflects the collaboration of active lime and schiste.
Gerard and Lionel Gauby - for much more about whose vineyards, labors, and stylistic evolution see my account in issue 183 - have elected after much consideration to bottle some single-vineyard wines not only for the pleasure of it but as a means of learning more by following their solo performances about the potential of some clearly outstanding parcels and sites that they have acquired over the past 6-8 years but which do not - at least for now - have an established place in either the red Vieilles Vignes or Muntada cuvees, and have instead until now been blended into the La Calcinaire rouge (or, in the case of Grenache Gris, the white Vieilles Vignes). The upshot for yours truly as critic is even more excitement when tasting a Gauby collection than before, though it will surely be difficult to secure bottles from any of the aforementioned mini-cuvees in order to follow them in one's own cellar. (Incidentally, Lionel Gauby is also experimenting with a couple of Jura-inspired barrels of white largely left to their own evolutionary devices. Nobody can accuse the Gaubys of resting on their laurels - though I suppose some fans might prefer if they did!) The 2008 collection here impressively reflects the tiny berries that Gerard Gauby says characterized that vintage. "The Carignan, especially," adds Lionel Gauby, "was magnificent." And while the 2009 reds here are certainly impressive, 2010 will be a class above them, the wines already rife with intrigue. (The aforementioned single-site lots - whose number increased in 2010 - are of course by definition unblended, so there is no question that what I tasted from cask was definitive; but I felt it was too early to publish notes on these, especially when the familiar classic cuvees were as yet only represented by unblended lots.)
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