Minna Vineyard Red 2008
It will come as no surprise to learn that I drink a lot of wines from the Loire Valley. Indeed, many other regions simply don’t get a look in. But during the past couple of weeks I have suddenly shifted tack, and have been pulling the corks on all sorts of reds from across France and beyond. Many have had some age on them as well, and it has been a good reminder for me just how exciting mature wine can be. Châteauneuf du Pape from Vieux Télegraphe, Hermitage from Marc Sorrel, Domaine de Trévallon, Cornas from Thierry Allemand, Côtes du Roussillon from Domaine Gauby, La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 and so on, mostly from mid-1990s vintages. The silky texture these wines can achieve when they are in their twenties can be delightful. I really should buy and cellar more widely, instead of focusing so solidly on just two or three regions. Some of these wines are a lot cheaper than my favourite wines from Bordeaux as well (although good Chinon usually wins when it comes to price).
Not quite so old is this wine, also from a southern clime, the vineyards being located in the Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhône, which places them a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean. The Minna Vineyard Rouge from the 2008 vintage is mostly Syrah at 55%, blended with 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Mourvèdre. Likening it to any of the above wines probably leaves me open to a barrage of criticism, but I guess the unconventional (for France) nature of the blend and of course simple geography puts it closer to Domaine de Trévallon more than any other. The Minna Vineyard wines are ones I have featured before, but to recap the grapes are hand-picked, then cold-macerated before a wild-yeast fermentation in small stainless steel vats. After post-fermentation maceration with pigeage the wine is pressed, both free-run and press wine blended straight away, before going into oak for 24 months, with bâtonnage. Then there is a light filtering before bottling.
The end result is of course richly coloured, slick and approachable. In the glass the 2008 Minna Vineyard Rouge leads with the aromas of blackcurrants first, perhaps reflecting that Cabernet component, before this yields to wilder notes of grilled meats and smoke. There is also a surprisingly fresh and tense edge to the aromatics, with scents of wild perfumed strawberries and blackberries, all with an appealing gravelly undercurrent which adds some real interest. This is matched by a tense and gravelly character on the palate, with a style that seems to major on freshness and coolnesss over heat. Indeed, it shows a crunchy energy and even a little suggestion of minerally bite, such is its restraint, with a lean and sinewy middle filled with hints of smoke and more gravel. A gentle middle in terms of fruit, leading into a long, tannin-infused finish. Good stuff. 15.5/20 (September 2015)
Disclosure: The bottle was a received sample.