Domaine des Amouriers Vacqueyras 1998

$119.99

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Alcohol: 14%

Grape(s): Grenache, Syrah

Localization: Southern Rhône, Vacqueyras, Rhône, France

Tasting notes: This is a “wow” wine. While pouring, a rich purple fills the glass. After a few swirls, notes of blackberries, garrigue, and tapenade appear. The first sip fills your mouth, full of fruit with balanced tannins and acidity, and a finish that lasts. This is the “Grand Cru” of Vacqueyras. A Châteauneuf-du-Pape style wine from a fantastic vintage, at a third the cost for this kind of quality!

94 points Wine Spectator: Oozes tar, spice, and fancy oak accents, but it has so many flavors and aromas-violet, plum, blackberry, wild raspberry--to balance.

The Domain: In the wine world, family history is important. With little land left to cultivate, the best plots remain in families for generations-- a huge advantage over the competition. In the early part of the 19th century, the Chudzikiewicz family immigrated from Poland to the Rhône Valley, and their son married into the Amouriers family. Today, the head of the Domaine is Igor Chudzikiewicz (5th generation), with his partner Patrick Gras, who’s been working in the cellar for the past 35 years. When I met Igor, I knew he was truly a wine guy. He was purple--his hands looked like grapes themselves. There was no question in my mind he was a hard worker, and his wines reflect that dedication.

The southern Rhône Valley is home to some incredible terroir. Well known as the home for Châteauneuf-du-Pape, other regions like Vacqueyras are making incredible wines in the region. Domaine des Amouriers is a 25 hectares estate, separated into 34 individual plots throughout the southern Rhône Valley. Each plot requires a specific farming schedule--not an easy task -- not to mention the hard work of being totally organic. Their work in the cellar is minimal, letting the true expression of the terroir shine. Their Vacqueyras holdings total 10 hectares, and produce nothing shy of a Châteauneuf quality wine, but for a steal!