I have consistently said that “box wines” have their place. I have also consistently said that some “box wines” are far better than others. This last statement was never truer with a great little “box wine” I just found – the Domaine Le Garrigon Côtes du Rhone, marketed by Wineberry, which, according to their web site is “a premium importer and wholesaler of fine wines with offices in the United States, France and China.”
Domaine Le Garrigon is an entirely organic wine maker in Tulette, a quaint, ancient town situated at the southernmost part of the Départment of the Drôme. The town of Tulette is delimited to the north and the south by an area known as the “Enclave of the Popes”, which is part of the Départment of the Vaucluse. This is where Grenache, Syrah and Carignan thrive, producing eminently quaffable, sun-drenched wines.
The winery itself was founded in 1919 by the grandfather of current owner, Daniel Couston. Along with his sister, Marie-Francoise, the winery has developed a range of fruity, terrior-driven wines that are classic Rhône valley charmers. The property spreads over approximately 200 acres from Tulette to Visan and sits upon calcareous clay and calcareous silt subsoil, with plenty of the stony, pebbly topsoil that is the hallmark of the Rhône. They produce AOC Côtes du Rhône as well as Côtes du Rhône Villages wines. Since 1997 the winery has been using entirely organic practices throughout the vineyard and production facility. No chemicals, enzymes or other non-natural products are used on the property.
The first thing that caught my eye was the packaging. The wine is sold in a wooden wine box, evoking the image of a miniaturized wine case box. Within the wooden box is a vacuum-sealed 3 liter bladder with a spigot for dispensing. Like most box wines, as you dispense the wine the bladder deflates behind the remaining wine to limit oxygenation and spoilage. I had the box on our counter for about nine days and the wine was as fresh on day nine as it was on day one.
The wine itself is a blend of 60% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 30% Carignan grapes, grown on vines with between 15 and 45 years of age. The soil is worked mechanically to avoid the use of weed killers and chemicals. Upon maturation, the grapes are harvested quickly and taken through a “traditional” wine making process. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed and placed in cement tanks for three weeks where the must is pumped over daily. Fermentation is natural using only wild yeasts. When the fermentation is complete and the wine matures, after about 10 months, pneumatic presses move the wine to the wine box bladders. The wines do not see any time in oak, which only enhances the terrior.
At approximately $40 per box before any discount, you are basically buying a $10 CDR in an easy to use dispenser for every day pleasure. Factor in that the wine is an easy-drinking wine with nice Rhône character and I think you have a hit!
My tasting note:
Soft, fruity nose with cherry, red currant and lavender hints. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity and supple tannin – good balance. Cherry fruit palate with violets, tar and dried fruit notes. Moderate length – simple and smooth – highly quaffable. Drinking well now – not for aging. Very good value!