The Rhône River stretches from the Alps to the Mediterranean through an incredibly diverse expanse. At its southern end, between the cities of Vienne and Avignon, rolling hills meet plateaus of varying elevation under the toasty Mediterranean sun. Long, warm summers and mild winters allow the region’s dominant grape variety, Grenache, to yield good concentration via stony soils and low rainfall. While Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the most recognizable of the region’s nine cru appellations, it is Cairanne (elevated to cru status in 2016), that is perhaps the most promising and exciting, often producing wines that express a distinct finesse.
To think of the wines of Cairanne is to think of Marcel Richaud, who was instrumental in elevating the region to cru status. Marcel comes from a vine growing family that focused their energies on producing and selling fruit to the local cooperative. While still in his teens he decided to break from that tradition to forge his own path as a vigneron, producing his first vintage at the age of 19. He soon made a name for himself across the region, into the Paris wine scene, and then internationally.
As with most renowned winemakers, concentrating on making wine in the vineyard first was one of the keys to his success. Organic methods were used from the very beginning and cellar work is performed with the goal of expressing the region’s terroir with purity. Most of the varieties are vinified apart in cement vats with indigenous yeasts and no addition of sulfites, save for a small amount at bottling.
Over the years, Marcel has grown the estate by recouping family vineyards from the cooperative and purchasing land. Today, he is retired, and the nearly 200 acre estate is run by his children: Thomas, Claire, and Edith. But even though Marcel has stepped back from daily operations, his influence is still clearly tasted in every sip of the wines that bear his name.
Included in The Talented Marcel Richaud’s Old Hand at Southern Rhône’s Newest Appellation 9-Bottle Package are three each of the following wines:
The price includes tax and delivery, as well as a 10% discount. We will also honor a 10% discount on any bottles you might wish to add to the Wine-Aid package.
Cairanne (2018) Regular Price: $37
The village of Cairanne is situated atop a range of low hills with ideal exposure. It’s elevation ensures slightly cooler temperatures than much of the region and lends a brightness and delicacy to the wine. This organically certified cuvée aims to express the village’s terroir from soils of poor, stony clay-limestone on mid-slope plots. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Carignan from 40 to 70-year-old vines, the wine is fermented and aged primarily in concrete tanks, with a portion in oak barrels, then bottled unfined and unfiltered with only a small amount of sulfites. The result is a wine that is both rich and electric, with complex aromas of fruit (both fresh and preserved) and herbal spice. A sip fills the mouth with ripe berries and licorice riding a mineral spine.
“Terre de Galet” (Côtes du Rhône 2018) Regular Price: $32
A certified organic blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 15% Carignan, 10% Mouvèdre, and 5% Counoise, “Terre de Galets” comes from a mix of plots and vines 10 to 40 years old growing in a mixture of red clay and the region’s famous round stones (galets roulés). The vineyards are located on the Plan de Dieu, some of the most significant terroir in Côtes du Rhône. Post-harvest, all the fruit is destemmed, with the exception of the Carignan which is fermented whole-cluster. The wine then ages in concrete vats for six months in an underground cellar. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with only a small amount of sulfites, it is energetic, well-structured, with loads of ripe fruit and spice.
“à la source” (Vin de France Rouge 2019) Regular Price: $23
A certified organic and poundable blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvèdre from the estate’s youngest vines and newest plantations located near Cairanne, on the terroirs of Combes, Granges, and Sousville. Each variety is vinified separately in concrete vats and the wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered with only a small amount of sulfites. A smooth and easy-drinking wine that emphasizes the fruit yet has enough complexity to pair with a charcuterie plate but might even be better with a garlicky “white” pizza from nearby Tomatoes Apizza. Serve with a slight chill.