Domaine de Nalys
It was a bit over a year ago that I encountered Domaine de Nalys at Vinisud in Montpellier. The wines stood out as they had more white wines than any other winery and on top of that, they were quite good. Thankfully I took the director, Isabelle Ogier’s card and a few months later, when Provence was in its unearthly glow of Fall, I make a trip up there to visit Domaine de Nalys as well as others.
A bit of history first in that Nalys finds its roots back in the 17th century, 1630 to be exact when the original family Nalys owned the estate until the French Revolution. A new family bought the estate and tended it for seven generations with Dr. Philippe Dufays being the last member of the family (he wisely married in) to take care of it. He did a great deal to reinvigorate the vines and elevate the estate to the point seen in today. Unfortunately after his only son died in an accident, he decided to sell everything in 1975 and the company, Groupama bought it and continues to run it to this day.
They lay claim to a wondrous slice of the Châteauneuf soils including the famed La Grau from which nearly all photos of the large stoned vineyards of galets roulés come from. The area around the château is called Le Bois Sénéchal and offers them a wholly different type of soil to work with in the form of sandstone. In total they hold a quite substantial 50ha of vineyards. While Grenache accounts for some 60% of the vineyards (and rightly so) they grow 13 of the permitted varieties in total which, for those whose heads might swim trying to imagine all these unfamiliar French names (sorry, no Cab or Merlot in the Rhône) they grow rows of, just in front of the winery with a very nice sign telling which is which. Naturally, I photographed them all given that in Châteauneuf they harvest both reds and whites at nearly the same time and all the grapes were ripe.
A delightful winery to visit, they’re open most every day for drop-in visits and, as I found to be the case with many wineries in Châteauneuf they do indeed speak English very well. You can walk through the front part of the cellar and if memory serves, more involved tours can be reserved with a trip to the vineyards and more of the cellar. Whatever you particular desire, it’s a recommendable stop in the region.
Cuvée Classique Blanc 2013
Citric, grapefruit, beeswax, and soft mineral aromas with an overall freshness that carry through to the finish with a touch of tart melon at the end.
55% White Grenache, 19 % Clairette, 12% Bourboulenc, 12% Roussanne, 2% Picpoul 13.5% 17€
Salty minerality on top of layered sandstone, mature lime zest. Excellent mouthfeel, full stony, and complex with a slight touch of ash on the finish.
Roussanne, Clairette, White Grenache 14% 31€
Cuvée Classique Rouge 2011
Red fruit notes with candied cherries. Potent body with notes of licorice and pungent black pepper.
48% Grenache, 34% Syrah, 18% “others” 14.5% 17€
Le Châtaignier 2010
Dusty fig and plum aromas with a round, smooth mouthfeel and red fruit finish.
92% Grenache, 8% Mourvèdre 15.5% 31€
Elegant plum, prune, and orange peel notes in the nose. Great, firm tannins in the body with pronounced minerality that flows with ease through the finish.
Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre 15.5% 31€
Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
Clos Henri - Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2016 92
Earthy, red cherries, young, crisp cranberry, light herbal notes, leafy, minor chalk. Medium tannins and medium plus acidity as well as length. Light sweetness on the palate but with a very pleasant, lingering structure and lightness to it.
100% Pinot Noir · 13.5% · 16.50EUR