Grape(s): Grenache Gris
Localization: Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Tasting Notes: An electric dessert wine from the southern reaches of France. This is a Racino style, meaning it is purposefully allowed to become oxidative with prolonged aging and exposure to the elements. Despite this, it retains a profound acidity that provides a structural backbone to pair with the notes of Meyer lemon, preserved stone fruit, dried lilies, African coffee, and orange blossom honey. Long aging in the Passama family’s drafty horse barn has transformed their Rivesaltes into powerful, endlessly complex wines.
Notes: Grapes are harvested by hand from a small 1.9-hectare vineyard of 70-year old goblet vines. Following fermentation and a week-long maceration, elevage is undertaken in a former horse stable situated behind the chateau, a truly special place for the rearing of oxidative wines. The wines are kept in used 225-liter Bordelais fûts, stacked twos and threes, and year-by-year they concentrate and develop the rich texture and notable rancio character that is a hallmark of their elevage.
Food Pairing: Enjoy as a digestif with cheese, dried fruit, or dessert.
The Domain: Established in 1846 in the heart of the Têt Valley, just outside Thuir, Château de Saü has always owned vineyards but didn’t begin bottling its wine until fourth-generation owner Hervé Passama and his wife Béatrice returned to the estate in 1986. The Passamas completed conversion to organic viticulture in 2006.
Producing a full range of wines under both the Chateau de Saü and Domaine de Saü rubrics, the estate is most prized for its spicy, alluring Rivesaltes ambré and, more recently, for its Rancio sec, produced during the last years of Hervé’s life. With Hervé’s passing in 2014, Béatrice has retired and the vines have been rented, leaving these wines the last testament of one of the great terroirs for aged, oxidative wines.