Domaine la Garrigue
- Robert Parker: “Domaine La Garrigue’s Vacqueyras have a very impressive track record for aging up to 10 years”; Livingstone-Learmonth: “Traditional, full wines”
- Southern Rhône, France
- Owner / Winemaker:
- The Bernard family
- Size, Total Production:
- 80 ha, 300,000 bottles
- Dry, Mediterranean with Mistral wind
- Limestone-clay, red clay, grey clay, much stony topsoil
- Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault
- Organic Status:
- Domaine la Garrigue makes a terrifically traditional yet refreshing version of Vacqueyras, using completely old-fashioned winemaking. The largest and oldest family estate in Vacqueyras, it’s located a few kilometres outside the village of Vacqueyras, surrounded by vineyards on the plateau here known as Les Garrigues. The Cellar is a typically old-fashioned Provencal building, set around a large courtyard, shaded by pine and platane trees, which shimmers with heat and the sound of cicadas in the summer. The name refers to the Provencal herbs which grow wild everywhere, and include thyme, rosemary, sarriette, mint as well as small Mediterranean pine bushes.
All the vineyards at La Garrigue are on clay limestone stony soils that look quite similar to the galets roules in Chateauneuf and provide the base for wines with rich power. Most of the vines continue to be cultivated in gobelet and the viticulture is basically organic. The notable climatic feature here is the Mistral wind which blows from the north down the Rhone Valley up to about 100 days in the year. It cools down the air by several degrees (not so comfortable in the winter) and helps to keep the vineyard free of disease caused by humidity, which is particularly useful when it follows rainfall, as it often does. Its effect also tends to concentrate the grapes.
Winemaking is traditional, with whole bunch fermentations, wild yeasts, relatively long macerations and long ageing in concrete tank – however, temperature is reasonably controlled and this helps to keep the freshness of fruit. Interestingly, Robert Parker always offers his praises of the wines here but is at pains to point out that there are differences between the regular bottlings and those for the US importer. Question of taste as always, but having tasted both versions of all wines, the regular bottlings are just as good, just different in that they offer a bit more leather and spice, perhaps a bit more complexity and less ‘fruitiness’ and are somewhat gentler. All in all, this is a great source of fine, classic and great value Vacqueyras.