| CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES
Séguret Vieilles Vignes
The medieval village of Séguret is literally carved into the sheer and rocky hillside, high above the River Ouvèze. Séguret is the quintessential provincial village with cobblestone streets winding up through the narrow passages between ancient tiled roof buildings. Facing due west towards Orange, watching the sun set over the Southern Rhône valley from Séguret can be a humbling and transcendent experience.
Séguret, in the Vaucluse département, is an ancient wine region having been mentioned by Pliny, around AD 77 in Book XIV of his Natural History. Wine also prospered during the Middle Ages as a local nobleman, the Comte de Toulouse, was a noted vineyard owner in the 13th century.
Vineyards Éric's Séguret comes from 3 vineyards. The first, called Espieux, is 99% Grenache and is set between the rocky, northwest facing cliffs and the ancient village of Séguret. The 50-year-old vines are trellised, run perpendicular to the slope and nearly meet the ancient town wall. Also below the village is the Barry vineyard. Here the vines are nearly 80 years old, also face Northwest (trellised, running perpendicular) and are 99% Grenache. In both vineyards the other 1% is Clairette and Carignan which is sporadically planted throughout because this is how vineyards were planted 50-80 years ago! Both vineyards offer a view of the entire Southern Rhône valley that is simply breathtaking.
The third vineyard, sometimes called the "secret spot," sits above the village of Séguret in a gentle bowl. It is very unusual to have enough topsoil for vines to flourish at this altitude so the yields are very low and producing even 35 HL/HA is challenging. The old Grenache vines are nearing 80 years old.
Terroir Located 30 kilometers east of Orange, the Séguret vineyards are at the foot of the Detelles de Montmirail at about 250 meters above sea level. Both vineyards are 100% pure limestone with earthy jagged rocks scattered through the vineyards. The climate is Mediterranean with the exception that le mistral will blow her gusts. Nights and early mornings are often very cold with intense heat in the afternoon. As a result, the ripening of the Grenache is delayed and normally a few weeks later than near by Châteauneuf du Pape.
Côtes du Rhône Villages
In 1953 four villages in the Southern Rhône were making wines considered
to be of higher quality than those usually produced under the generic
Côtes du Rhône label. These four villages - Cairanne, Laudun,
Chusclan and Gigondas were not considered to be ready for full appellation
status (like those of Châteauneuf du Pape, Côte Rotie, Hermitage,
etc.) but were certainly superior to the many Côtes du Rhône
wines produced. Therefore the INAO (National Institute of Appellations
of Origin) decided that if these villages followed agreed upon rules they
would create a new status to identify their higher quality wines. Rules
were laid out that governed grape varieties, yields per hectare and the
minimum alcohol strength of their red wines raised from 11% to 12.5%.
Producers following these rules were then allowed to market their wine
as Côtes du Rhône - "Cairanne" for example and therefore
to promote the distinctive characteristics of their local terroir. After
two additional villages joined this illustrious group (Vacqueyras in 1955
and Vinsobres in 1957) a common title was created in 1967 to apply to
all of the wines: Côtes du Rhône Villages. Today there are
16 villages with this status.
2001 began with a mild winter that was followed by a warm and wet spring with above average temperatures. Flowering started towards the beginning of May and June and July continued to be warm with heavy rainfall in July. August was hot and dry with temperatures reaching 33°C resulting in the grapes reaching a good maturity. September brought le mistral, which continued for nearly 2 weeks. Harvest commenced in early October.
The 2001 Séguret Vieilles Vignes has a huge nose of ripe dark fruit sitting on top of a base of Provencal herbs. With its supple mouth and elegant round tannins, it is unusual for a Côtes du Rhône Villages wine in that it makes a wonderul appertif as well as the perfect match for wild boar, venison or lamb. This vintage should be enjoyed in its youth and will benefit from a slight chilling before served.
© 2003 Éric Texier