About this WINE
Domaine Chaume Arnaud
Domaine Chaume-Arnaud is owned and run by Valérie and Philippe Chaume-Arnaud, a young and vibrant couple with 13.5 hectares situated in and around Vinsobres, made up principally of Grenache (60%); Syrah (20%) with some ancient Cinsault, Carignan and Mourvedre (10%) plus Viognier and Marsanne (10%). Yields are kept low, all soil treatments are organic, and harvesting is done solely by hand. Most of the vines average 30 years old, going up to 65 for the Carignan in the Vinsobres cuvée.
Philippe looks after the vines while Valérie works the cellar, all under the watchful eye of her parents - her mother's method of tracking Philippe down is to drive literally into a vineyard and stand and scream at the top of her voice until he appears.
Vinsobres, along with Beaumes de Venise, has cause for celebration, , having been promoted to a stand-alone appellation in 2006 - in the vein of Gigondas or Vacqueyras - but now overtaking Cairanne and 12 or so other Cote du Rhone villages, in the local hierarchy.
This is primarily due to the relative altitude of the vines being recognised for lending complexity and structure to the wines. None are better at demonstrating this than the husband and wife team Philippe and Valérie Chaume Arnaud.
Southern Rhône Blend
The vast majority of wines from the Southern Rhône are blends. There are 5 main black varieties, although others are used and the most famous wine of the region, Châteauneuf du Pape, can be made from as many as 13 different varieties. Grenache is the most important grape in the southern Rhône - it contributes alcohol, warmth and gentle juicy fruit and is an ideal base wine in the blend. Plantings of Syrah in the southern Rhône have risen dramatically in the last decade and it is an increasingly important component in blends. It rarely attains the heights that it does in the North but adds colour, backbone, tannins and soft ripe fruit to the blend.
The much-maligned Carignan has been on the retreat recently but is still included in many blends - the best old vines can add colour, body and spicy fruits. Cinsault is also backtracking but, if yields are restricted, can produce moderately well-coloured wines adding pleasant-light fruit to red and rosé blends. Finally, Mourvèdre, a grape from Bandol on the Mediterranean coast, has recently become an increasingly significant component of Southern Rhône blends - it often struggles to ripen fully but can add acidity, ripe spicy berry fruits and hints of tobacco to blends.
Joe Czerwinski - 30/11/2017