Thursday, 23 December 2010

Domaine de la Charite and Chateau Capucine

Christophe Coste was barely 20 when we first met. He had recently taken over his grandfather's estate, Domaine de la Charite, in Saze, to the west of Avignon where he made some good wines from the Cotes du Rhone and Villages appellations. Now, his village, Signargues, has been promoted to a named village, he is president of the sydicate, he is married to Sandrine with whom he has two young daughters and he now makes a dozen or so wines including one from a recently acquired hectare of old-vine Grenache in the Gallimardes sector of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Not a bad decade!

If all that isn't enough, Christophe made the only wines outside Chateauneuf in 2008 which I can honestly say I would be happy to stack my own cellar with. His 2008 CDR Villages Signargues "Bastien" is packed with kirsch and garrigues, very full with great texture and length. A superb wine for the difficult vintage.

Even better, the 2008 CDR Villages Signargues "Cayenne" is more or less the same with a lovely, gentle veneer of oakiness. Excellent balance without any of the hint of bitterness which some other wines of the vintage have displayed.

We discussed why his wines were so much better than most others. Christophe joked that it was his winemaking and, of course, that has much to do with it. The weather was, perhaps, a little kinder to him than to producers in the eastern Vaucluse (Signargues is in the Gard) but Christophe has acquired various bits of kit including top of the range sorting tables which can pick out only the very ripest of grapes. A shrewd investment for vintages such as this.

The one wine he has still from 2007 was always going to be a winner. I have a case at home already and was pleased to taste it again at the estate to see how it is developing. Now drinkable (although with much further to go), the 2007 Cotes du Rhone "Ombres" is Christophe's way of putting top Northern Rhone Syrah or good, cool-climate New World Syrah in its place. Elegant and long with lots of black fruit, a whiff of mint and wrapped in a little new oak, this is simply gorgeous.

Finally, we tasted the 2009 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Chateau Capucine named after Christophe's oldest daughter. This is going to be an excellent wine and, with Christophe's skills, an estate to follow. He is clearly going for the prestige end of the market quality wise but, knowing Christophe, it will be priced extremely competitively (around £220 per dozen in bond). At first tasting, this pure Grenache wine is quite tannic with rich cherry fruit but, warming it up in the glass a little reveals all sorts of nuances including liquorice, garrigue herbs and spices but, as with all great wines, it is the texture that is the key to its quality. The oak used is second hand so imparts little if any flavour but assists in the textural development. Give it a couple of years to develop further and enjoy it over the next five years although it will, no doubt, go on much longer. A star is born!

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