2020 Vacqueyras, Pavane, La Bastide Saint Vincent, Rhône
About this WINE
La Bastide St. Vincent
Flanking the evocatively named Dentelles de Montmirail, with vines on the equally evocative Plateau des Garrigues, La Bastide St Vincent is a delightful, family-owned wine domaine with 17th-century origins.
Laurent Daniel works 26 hectares across six villages and 23 parcels, growing the famous trio of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. He vinifies them separately in a combination of cement and stainless steel. He keeps the temperatures relatively low to allow full and generous expression of the fruit flavours.
Laurent’s wines are often powerful with a typicity and alcohol level that you might expect from the Southern Rhône. In 2021, however, the wines have a different appeal with freshness dominating. The resulting wines have lower alcohol yet still with good concentration and beautiful balance. We really enjoyed his 2021s. They are rather lovely wines allowing the minerality of his soils to shine through. Sadly, his production was 50% down this vintage, so secure a case while you can.
Vacqueyras was the second Côtes du Rhônes Villages to be upgraded to AOC status, after Gigondas, in 1990 and rightly so. These excellent-value wines are like turbo-charged Côtes du Rhônes: dark and rich with the classic herbs and warm peppery spice of the Southern Rhône.
Compared to neighbouring Gigondas, they are slightly more restrained and rustic – in the best sense of the word – and slightly cheaper. They are made from a little less Grenache (50 percent minimum) with the balance made up with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault.
You should give Vacqueyras two to three years to come round, but they can then last up to a decade. The 770 hectares of vineyards are spread across the communes of Vacqueyras and Sarrians in the foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail and produce almost exclusively red wines. The small amount of fresh, fruity rosé is normally well worth the search, while the tiny amount of white wine is mostly not.
Recommended producers: La Bastide de St. Vincent, Montirius
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.
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Laurent’s Vacqueyras has a lifted and fresh red cherry nose; it’s perfumed and musky with sweet exotic spice. The warmth of the vintage runs through its core but there is a freshness behind it; supporting the smooth, almost powdery tannins. The brightness of this wine effortlessly runs alongside the unmistakable power of the vintage.
Drink 2022 to 2025
Catriona Felstead MW, Senior Wine Buyer, Berry Bros. & Rudd (Mar 2022)
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