by Clark Z. Terry, January 2020
It’s always a pleasure to have Daniel Brunier, vigneron at Vieux Télégraphe and Les Pallières, in town to visit customers. He knows how to put on a show, and anyone who attended our Autumn Tasting in Oakland in November saw his talent to connect with the public.
Daniel’s arrival was well timed with the arrival of the two 2017 bottlings from Les Pallières. When speaking about his work, Daniel likes to build connections between the wines he makes across the Rhône Valley. He’s a man of Gigondas and Ventoux, not simply Châteauneuf, where Vieux Télégraphe is based, and the through line of his production is the Grenache grape. What’s striking in his wines is how each bottling expresses the greatness of an appellation and Grenache, yet is distint and full of character. The 2017 vintage of Racines and Terrasse du Diable epitomizes this. I highly recommend picking up six bottles of each to discover what makes 2017 Les Pallières outstanding now and in the future.
2017 Gigondas « Racines »
The domaine’s oldest vines and 80% Grenache in the blend are the fundamentals of Racines. Of the two Les Pallières bottlings, this is the one that typically is open younger in its life. The tannins are soft, and the fruit is pure and elegant. Underlying that, though, is something dark and profound – a savory character reminiscent of a tapenade. Don’t count it out as a candidate for your cellar.
2017 Gigondas « Terrasse du Diable »
The Grenache is turned up to 90% for this high-altitude cuvée. The vines (averaging only fifty years) are planted on terraces that nestle against the imposing limestone cliffs of the Dentelles de Montmirail. For those of you who just can’t wait, open the Terrasse du Diable a good two or three hours before serving. Notes of black olive and licorice, mint, eucalyptus, and rosemary will soon fill the room. For those who can, in five to ten years, the brooding youthfulness will start to mature and you’ll be rewarded with … well, we don’t yet know. But if past vintages are any indication, you’ll be very happy with your foresight to put a few bottles away.