2009 Santa Duc Cotes du Rhône Les Vieilles Vignes

There is just something about Santa Duc’s Cotes du Rhônes. In the hands of winemaker Yves Gras, Grenache is elevated to the grand heights of sensory pleasure. For my palate, the taste of ripe, plush Grenache is as comforting as falling into a down-filled overstuffed sofa. With the 2009 Cotes du Rhône Les Vieilles Vignes, Yves augments that cushy, juicy Grenache fruit with elements of white pepper, fragrant forest-floor herb notes, and a seamless finish. It is a lovely drink for evenings that are constructed around simple foods and animated conversations that go long into the night. When you have the urge to tuck in, curl up on the couch, and savor a glass of something yummy, I strongly suggest reaching for Santa Duc’s 2009 Les Vieilles Vignes. 
Domaine Santa Duc has long been recognized for stellar Gigondas and Cotes du Rhônes. In the 1997 edition of Wines of the Rhone Valley, Robert Parker Jr. wrote, “Santa Duc has become not only an important estate in Gigondas…but also a noteworthy producer of high-quality Cotes du Rhone…” I can assure you that in the 15 years since this publication was written, Yves has not been resting on his laurels and in fact is making even better wine today. Back in the late 80’s, Yves took over from his father who had been selling the fruit from their domaine to local negociants. This was common practice back then, but Yves had someithing else in mind for Santa Duc. With his unwavering work in the vineyard and cellar, becoming certified organic as of 2012, Santa Duc has yielded consistently exceptional wine over the years. It certainly hasn’t hurt that the Rhône has been blessed with a string of quality vintages either. However I’d like to point out as testament to Yves’ winemaking prowess that in the disastrous 2002 vintage, when most of the Rhône’s wine production was obliterated by torrential rains and floods, Yves managed to salvage his grapes and make, ok I’ll try not to exaggerate, very good wine. No small feat. The 2009 Les Vieilles Vignes is a selection of vines over 50 years old from primarily Villages-level vineyards, Yves’ own designation for calling it “old vines”. Grenache dominates, with the remainder Syrah, Mourvedre and the other usual Rhone suspects. Other than that, not much else to note – it really is all about the ripe fruit.Today, Wine House customers seemed ready to get busy in the kitchen. I heard about menus featuring roast duck, herb-crusted pork loin and, my favorite, a pork shoulder brined over night to be cooked on a rotisserie attachment over a grill. And what do all these mouth-watering dishes have in common? They’d all be great with the 2009 Les Vieilles Vignes from Santa Duc, c’est vrai! 
Last Saturday I rushed home to celebrate Mardi Gras, Russian-style. That’s right, we had buckwheat blini with all sorts of preserved and salted fish. As we were catching up on things, my brother commented that he expects to read something about our feast in my next write-up, but I explained it would be difficult since this is one of the few meals where wine just doesn’t work, it’s strictly vodka with blini. What could I do? Well, my brother then went on to say that he likes to keep the Dirty Dozen write-up on top of the wine fridge he keeps in the dining room. That way when he’s sent to grab a bottle for dinner, he can call back, “what’s cooking?” and then try to find what best matches the food pairing suggestion written at the end of each Dirty Dozen wine description. Now that’s a helpful tip I can share. Thanks big brother! —Anya Balistreri
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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Cotes du Rhone, Grenache, Mourvedre, Rhone, Syrah

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