Reds fermented in concrete vats always have a distinctive brick tone imbued into the fresh fruit scent, and this wine is no exception. A welcoming delicacy of pure blackberry, plum and cherry fruit perfume a warm clay aromatic as violets, agave, rosemary, cherry pit and dust settle in the background. On the palate the wine transforms denser and savory and the experience of pure, ripe berry and pit fruit has a cool cement tang of wet clay and dusty brick as well as notes of pepper, dark wood, underbrush spice as well as smoky red citrus and black herbs. There is great acidity and firm but generous structure as the wine lengthens on the palate, all the while with a peppered and savory edge. Quite elegant, the beauty of this Chateauneuf-du-Pape is in the subtly and grace it shows in a warm region. A blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 10% Cinsualt and 5% Syrah.
Domaine Berthet-Rayne is a small, family run
operation located in Courthezon just down the road from the illustrious Chateau
de Beaucastel. Perhaps a bit more modern than traditionally styled, the wines
are issued from certified organic vineyards and are amazing values that
capture the spirit and character of small production Chateauneuf with charm
and ease. Relative newcomers to the region, the efforts of Berthet-Rayne date
back to a beautiful wedding present in 1978, though continue a family
tradition in the Rhone.
In the early 1920’s, Raoul Raymond took
notice as the first ever French controls over wine production were put forth
under the laws of Appellation Contrôlée in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. He saw more
of a future in grape vines than the old cherry trees on his newly inherited
family farm. He and his son Emil farmed Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and
Syrah and began bottling wine as Domaine des Cigalons. When Emil’s daughter
Dany married Christian Berthet-Rayne, they received some of Cigalon vines as
a gift and Domaine Berthet-Rayne was born from old vines. Since 2003, Dany
and Christian’s daughter Laure and husband Martial are in charge of the daily
operations as well as are both acquiring more land and developing another
domaine, Berthet Capeau.
Situated between Orange and Avignon on the
west side of the Rhone River, Berthet-Rayne farms 15-20 hectares in
Chateauneuf-du-Pape as well as 5-10 hectares in Cotes-du-Rhone Villages. The
majority of their Chateauneuf-du-Pape vines are in the lieu-dits of Chapouin,
Coudoulet and Gardiole, where the quintessential soils of calcareous
clay overlaid with a thick carpet of rounded stones known as ‘galets’.
The cool limestone and chalky soils aid with water retention in a hot, dry
environment and somewhat delay ripening while the stones at the surface capture
the heat during and radiate it each night.
Since 2002, the farming has been organic was
certified in 2007. The soils and vines are fully cultivated and ploughed with
no chemicals or fertilizers. The vineyards are planted to Grenache, Syrah,
Mourvedre, Cinsault, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Grenache blanc and Roussane that
are 40 years old on average and range up to 70 years old. Harvest is all done by hand and ripe fruit
is sorted in the vineyard into small picking bins.
In the winery, the red Chateauneuf-du-Pape is
partially destemmed and fermented in cement tanks with temperature control
over 3-4 weeks. The pressing is on the light end and the young wines are
settled before aging for 12 months in a mixture of cement, barrels and
stainless steel. The upper end bottlings see more new wood and longer aging
in barrel and in bottle before release. The Berthet-Rayne Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Rouge is based on a high proportion of Grenache, with Mourvèdre and a bit of
Cinsault and Syrah. It is elegant with bright acidity and complex aromatics
and flavors that are an exercise in finesse of fruit and savory elements. The
2012 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge is steeped in dark red fruits, stewed
strawberry, smoky plum, sweet earth, dark coffee, sage and cocoa aromas and
flavors. It is as typical as Chateauneuf-du-Pape comes, edging more elegant
and ethereal in character than it is rich and powerful. The wines are treated
with the utmost care and is shows.