Rhône 2018 - Biodynamic sunrise
Domaine Montirius – Sarrians
Winemaker: Éric Saurel
Annual production: estimated 200-250,000 bottles
First biodynamic vineyard and winery around Gigondas and Vacqueyras
Unconforming and innovative (by nature) and outstanding (by labour) family winery
A wide range of high-quality mineral whites and velvety, fruit-driven reds.
Top wines: Le Minéral Vacqueyras 2017 (white), Terre des Ainés Gigondas 15 (red).
6.45am - Justine, Christine, Éric and head picker Olivier organise the day’s harvest
If you ever go to Domain Montirius, simply forget everything you think you know about winemaking. Christine, Éric and now their three children (Manon, Justine and Marius) just do it their way. In fact, challenging the conventional to achieve further balance and greatness has become a way of life at Domain Montirius. Pigeage on the reds? Yes but before fermentation, during a maceration at 15C. Colour and tannin extraction? Of course, but via with a unique and secret tool that gently introduces air in the tanks during fermentation to break up the chapeau and help tannins and colour to develop and stabilise. Barrel ageing? No way. It would only be a fix a posteriori on a wine coming out of the tanks unbalanced. Why mix a bright living element (a fresh and fruity wine) with a dying, battered one (wood that has been chopped, charred and made into a barrel)? Wood would only suck out the life of young wines. This strive for a greater balance transpires into every aspect of the domain's life. Even during the usually manic harvesting season, there is an air of serenity floating around.
No matter what you think of these techniques, the philosophy that supports them or the wines themselves, Montirius simply cannot leave you indifferent and inevitably questions your deepest beliefs about how (and why) wine should be made.
Le Minéral 2017 is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Bourboulenc. The wine is delicate on the nose but rich and round on the palate with stone fruits (white peaches) flavours and a remarkable acidity supported a long mineral (saline) finish. A must for any Rhône white lover. Perfect with a salade niçoise or a lemon sole fillet à la provençale. 17/20
Terre des Ainés 2015 is a Gigondas red made from 80% of Grenache and 20% of Mourvèdre grown on the oldest vines of the domain (80 years old). While some of the 2015 Southern Rhône reds can be still quite tannic (plenty of ripe grapes that year), this number is pure velvet with both a soft texture and tannins. The wine also has plenty of fruit with soft red and black fruits. 17.5/20
The roots of biodynamically grown vines are deemed to dig deeper for their nutrients and hence are more resilient.