Joe Czerwinski - 30/11/2018
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.
Grenache (Noir) is widely grown and comes in a variety of styles. Believed to originate in Spain, it was, in the late 20th century, the most widely planted black grape variety in the world. Today it hovers around seventh in the pecking order. It tends to produce very fruity, rich wines that can range quite widely in their level of tannin.
In many regions – most famously the Southern Rhône, where it complements Syrah and Mourvèdre, among other grapes – it adds backbone and colour to blends, but some of the most notable Châteauneuf du Pape producers (such as Château Rayas) make 100 percent Grenache wines. The grape is a component in many wines of the Languedoc (where you’ll also find its lighter-coloured forms, Grenache Gris and Blanc) and is responsible for much southern French rosé – taking the lead in most Provence styles.
Found all over Spain as Garnacha Tinta (spelt Garnaxa in Catalonia), the grape variety is increasingly detailed on wine labels there. Along with Tempranillo, it forms the majority of the blend for Rioja’s reds and has been adopted widely in Navarra, where it produces lighter styles of red and rosado (rosé). It can also be found operating under a pseudonym, Cannonau, in Sardinia.
Beyond Europe, Grenache is widely planted in California and Australia, largely thanks to its ability to operate in high temperatures and without much water. Particularly in the Barossa Valley, there are some extraordinary dry-farmed bush vines, some of which are centuries old and produce wines of startling intensity.