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Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 2019

Marcoux Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 2019

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Tasting Notes

The quality of this white really took off with the acquisition of a pneumatic press and cooling system in 2009--and the wine has never looked back. Traditionally, Marcoux's white is an unusual blend (in the sense that it was heavily Roussanne dominant) of 60% Roussanne and 40% Bourboulenc hailing from two parcels. The Roussanne's 0.5-hectares of vines in Les Esqueirons where the cool limestone-based soils are perfect for white grapes (bringing freshness, texture and finesse) and the Bourboulenc, a 0.35-hectare plot in Les Bosquets (this variety bringing more citric freshness and drive).

From 2015, due to demand for this cuvée, Sophie Armenier has been vinifying and blending in Marcoux's white varieties that grow on their 'red' vineyards--Grenache Blanc and Clairette. Pre-2015 these grapes were co-fermented with the estate Châteauneuf-du-Pape rouge. Hence, the new blend looks something like this: Roussanne (55%; bringing the power), Bourboulenc (35%; freshness) and Grenache Blanc/Clairette (10%; flesh and finesse). The grapes are whole-berry pressed, naturally fermented and raised entirely in steel vat on fine lees. There is no bâtonnage and the malo is blocked to further underline the wine's structure and freshness. It's the kind of racy, juicy white that we wished the appellation made more of (and that we had more of!). - Importer Note

This tiny, artisanal Domaine is one of the French pioneers of biodynamic viticulture ‚– they were the first in Châteauneuf to convert to biodynamics some 22 years ago. Since this time, and especially since 1996 when the Armenier sisters took full control of the Estate, Domaine de Marcoux has been on a steady path to becoming one of the true greats of the region. Yet, they are so small, only producing between two to four thousand cases for the world that for many, they remain a hidden treasure. To put things their volumes in perspective, this is roughly half the production of DRC and something like 1/10th of Beaucastel.

Marcoux has 17.5 hectares of vineyards dotted around the appellation and is therefore blessed with a cross section of Châteauneuf terroir, from the region's iconic large galets roulé, to sand, gravel and even limestone. The average vine age is about 50 years, whilst their the oldest vines have seen well over 100 vintages (I'm referring to Marcoux's small parcel of gnarled, century-old Grenache rising up from a sea of river stones on the Charbonnières plateau near Crau). Marcoux's Châteauneuf-du-Pape is drawn from 13 parcels of biodynamically farmed vines. These parcels encompass a wide range of soil types, from the aforementioned Charbonnières, to the red clay and galets in L'Arnesque and Les Bouquets, to the limestone and white clay in Les Esquirons and Beaurenard, and finally the red clay and gravels of Gallimardes, Les Serres and Les Plagnes in the south. This means Marcoux are able to produce a wine that truly reflects the Châteauneuf terroir as a whole. It also allows the Domaine to craft balanced wines year in year out as each parcel is vinified separately prior to the blending (and any parcels that do not fit the bill are usually sold to the negoce). In suitable years, the sisters release their cult Vieilles Vignes bottling. It is a 100% Grenache masterpiece, cut from from the estate's three 'crown-jewel' parcels of exceptionally old vines in Charbonnières, les Esquierons and les Gallimardes. As we receive so little, the less said about this bottling, the better!

In a region renowned for 'funk', the Sophie and Catherine Armenier firmly subscribe to the fruit-equals-terroir school of wine. They love wines of purity, clarity, perfume, seduction and balance; a manifesto that can be tasted across the domaine's five wines. In the winery the Armenier sisters meddle as little with the natural process as possible. With such pure and balanced ingredients, they don't need to. All fermentations are natural and the wines see no new oak. Their winemaking principles can be described by quoting Sophie Armenier; 'We interfere with the vinification as little as possible. We don't do any pigeage to get colour, because we just don't want to get in the way of the fruit. "

Lucidity and balance aren't words you often find yourself thinking when drinking from Châteauneuf's loving cup. Marcoux craft wonderfully pure, refined and textured examples that faithfully reflect the vintage in which they are produced. The 'classique " is a brilliant Chateauneuf; intence and textured yet with the minerality and refinement that we rarely find in this region. For those who love the depth, power and longevity of old vine, low-yielding Châteauneuf, yet crave more elegance, these are wines to squirrel away in the cellar for special occasions in the future. The 'Vieilles Vignes' is simply one of the great wines of France ‚– ultra powerful, layered and complex, it is a wine that will live and develop for decades. While this latter wine is all about the power and hedonism that ancient vines and their tiny yields generate in this part of the world, it is still nonetheless an incredibly complex and somehow balanced wine, despite its impossible concentration and ripeness. This is a timeless Estate whose delectable wines capture in Tanzer's words, '...the essence of Chateauneuf du Pape ".


- Importer Note

Product Type Wine White Viognier Marsanne Roussanne & Friends
Volume 750ml
Country France
Region Southern Rhone
Sub Region Chateauneuf du Pape
Winemaking Practices Minimal Intervention
Vineyard Practices Organic/Biodynamic