Panisse Cotes-du-Rhone 'Murmures des Vignes' 2016
The Domaine de Panisse is a hidden gem near the nice provencale town of Courthezon. Surrounded by cypress trees and vines, the winery can be found in a beautifully renovated old Mas, everything perfectly in its place and clean as a whistle. Many consumers don't realize it, but for some reason this is a difficult task in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. After all, why keep it clean if the wine easily sells out simply based on its name?
In 1992 the French government purchased Domaine de Panisse in order to demolish it for a super-highway connecting Avignon and Orange. But later that same year, in one of the worst rain vintages on record, the whole area flooded and the government rethought their decision. Christine and Jean-Pierre Olivier expatriated the property from the government and set about the looooong task of renovating the land and the buidlings.
Even as recently as two years ago, during the messy 2014 vintage, the Oliviers decided to NOT make any wine (think about that decision for a minute) and took advantage of an empty winery to finally put the finishing touches on the building. What they have now is truly a tremendous property, but still relatively unknown.
Our friend Veronique Lombardo from Devoy Martine in nearby Lirac introduced us earlier in the year and even though Christine was under the weather she greeted me warmly and we had a really, really great tasting.
When I first visited Christine about a year ago she didn't show me this wine. I think she really wanted to set the table for me with her wonderful Chateauneuf-du-Pape. But this time she showed me this as a "shiner"--a bottle with no label and asked me what I thought. I loved it immediately, knowing it was a younger wine, but thinking it was still Chateauneuf. But no, she decided to dedicate some vineyard land to a straight-up Cotes-du-Rhone.
Man, what a wine.
Look for this to be dark purple, rich, concentrated and succulent. A 'baby' Chateauneuf if you will. I bet you'll come back for more!
So what's the secret here? Well to me, its the land. I've visited Chateauneuf-du-Pape a lot over the years, often with mixed results. However, when I discover a winery that has vines planted on sand or sandstone, rather than the ubiquitious galets roules, round rocks, that are in all the photos, I often have a keeper. Such is the case at Domaine de Panisse.