- Rating: 96 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: $0
- Accepts Reservations: Yes
- Reservation Required: true
If there is one winery in Châteauneuf-du-Pape that reminds me of Napa Valley, it’s Domaine la Barroche. And when I say “Napa Valley”, I don’t mean the large wineries that host hundreds of people for walk-in tastings each day. I mean the top quality estates where you are the only people on the tour, everything about the winery is dedicated to making great wine, and the wine is fantastic… In addition, the wine here is more fruit driven and pure than many other estates in the area, so it will greatly please the Napa lovers out there. If Clos Des Papes was my favorite tasting experience, this may have been my favorite overall experience. Do NOT miss Domaine la Barroche during your exploration of the area.
Since the early 1700s, the Barrot family have owned the land that the Domaine is built upon in Châteauneuf. Passed down through the generations, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that plots would be chosen to plant vines. The motto of the family has always been that of winegrowers - that wines are made in the vineyard, not in the winery. Finally in 2015, they decided to invest in that part of the process too and opened a new state-of-the-art production facility. Though, I admit, “state-of-the-art” is the lazy way to describe this winery.
On the outside, it looks clean cut and simple except for the beautifully assembled stone walls on opposite sides of the main gate. The inside reminds me of the best wineries that integrate class and function - everything has a purpose, is 100% geared toward making wine, but organized in such a way that it looks like art. For example, they use gravity flow for moving the grapes, must and eventually wine to their destinations. Each level has its own feel - the top floor is steel and white, with the next level a darker tan with barrels lined against the walls. But each step is seamlessly connected to ensure a smooth production process. This is the type of winery that everyone wants to copy.
Their oldest vintage in the new facility is 2016, so all vintages before that are from the other facility. I personally thought it was fun to compare and contrast the 2015 and 2016. Both vintages are rated highly with the 2016 scoring slightly better, but I was convinced that the 2016 had a bit more precision to it (or maybe I talked myself into it?). The price point on their wines is very reasonable; even their best wine (Pure) is under 80 Euros. Though, make sure you purchase the wines at the winery as the markup is considerable back in the states where high scores and ratings drive up the price of the Pure to ~$150.
As with other winery tours, we spent time talking about the vines (they have some ancient vine Grenache on the property), their wine production process with the gravity flow, and the style of wines the proprietors hope to achieve. After walking around their cellar and admiring the collection of Pure on the shelves, we opened a few bottles to taste. You can find their wine catalog here.
- 2016 Vin de France Liberty (19€)
- A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre (GSM) with Cinsault and Carignan. On the nose, violets and a combination of deep red and black fruit. Because the grapes come from just outside Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the wine has some Carignan, it cannot be an AOC designate wine. The palate has intensity and is mainly fruit driven and bright, making it drinkable without any aging required to enjoy it. This wine is for those that like their Châteauneuf a little juicy with slightly less black pepper. It still has some tertiary flavors towards the finish that will come out more with time, but why wait? Very nice for the price point…
- 2016 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Signature – Julien Barrot (35€)
- Poured from a 375ml bottle. GSM blend with some Cinsault. Bright and fresh on the nose with seemingly equal amounts of red/blue/black fruit, though not much tertiary influence. The palate is medium(+) acid, high ripe tannin, medium body, with flavors of fresh black fruit (blackberry. Although the tannins are ripe, they still need just a year or two more to smooth out even more. On the finish, the depth of the fruit becomes more apparent, but it’s too easy to fall in love with the freshness on the nose/palate. Very clean for a Châteauneuf and an upgrade over the Liberty in its balance, depth, and aging potential.
- 2015 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Signature (35€)
- Jammy and cooked fruit flavors on the nose with black pepper being a significant part of the profile. Medium acid, high tannin, and medium body with flavors of raisined red fruit, kirsch, black pepper, and some black fruit. The tannins dry out your mouth on the finish, but I’d still consider it having bright red fruit at the end. This one will definitely require more aging or decanting than the 2016 and is definitely more for those that like a little more “brooding” in their wine. The 2016 is just so bright and balanced by comparison.
- 2016 Fiancee (55€)
- Blend of 40% old vine Grenache and 60% young Syrah. The nose is very pretty thanks to the Syrah - bright red fruit that’s less ripe than cherry but also a bit candied. Medium acid, high tannin, medium body, with flavors of young, fresh riper-than-cranberry red fruit and some spice. The tannins are grippy in this young wine and will obviously round out with age. I’d love to see this wine in 3-5 years when the tannins mellow into the body.
- 2016 Pure (78€)
- 100% ancient vine (100+ years old) Grenache that comes from a fine-grained sand plot in the northeast of the appellation, right next to Chateau Rayas (cult-status Châteauneuf). Aged in Foudre, which prevents oxidation of the Grenache while minimize oak flavors. Great depth on the nose with red (kirsch) and black fruit coming out and light baking spice tickling the nose at the end. Medium+ acid and tannin with a medium body. The flavors are ripe, nearly reaching raisined character, and span the breadth of the red/black spectrum with not too much tertiary character yet. The tannins are very fine but present which makes the wine appear very elegant at a young age. It’s inspiring how much character is in this single varietal wine. Bravo! Best drinking window is 7-9 years according to the wine ambassador running the tasting.
I was disappointed that I didn’t get to taste the 2016 Pure Blanc because it sold out upon release, But it is 55€, an 800 bottle production, and scored very well - I think I saw it being resold in the states for $150 as well. This wine emulates the Pure Rouge in that it is a 100% varietal wine (Clairette) and evidently displays similar complex character. I was encouraged to track down a bottle to try it, so track it down I will.
I must say I was extremely impressed how approachable their wines were at such a young age. The fineness of the tannins were immediately noticeable and are likely a result of their precises winemaking practices. I purchased a half-case of their Signature Chateauneuf-du-Pape and a few bottles of the Pure Rouge when I returned the states and am very happy with that decision. If you’d like to track down bottles for yourself, you can try contacting their distributor in the states (David Bowler Wine - bowlerwine.com).
I can’t wait to share these wines with friends in a blind tasting and hope that you get an opportunity to enjoy them too. Cheers!!
Rating: 96 out of 100