Cotes Du Rhones Villages
Seguret, Domaine de Mourchon
Mourchon is a comparatively new winery, created by the McKinley family in 1998. Walter’s previous business career was in the oil industry (to this day he knows so many Texans that the state imports more of his wine than any other in the US!) whilst his wife Ronnie was a talented chef and restaurant owner. Daughter Kate manages the company accounts (chapeau to her) and her husband Hugo makes the wine alongside oenologist Sebastien. A tight knit, hard working team. The estate today comprises 25 ha – there are at present only red varietals grown, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan but whites are planned for the future. In just 17 vintages they have swiftly risen to be regarded as perhaps the best producer in this Cote du Rhone Villages Seguret AOC. Located spectacularly at 400m in the Dentelles, we always receive the warmest of welcomes from the family as well as a private tour of the cave and an extensive tasting. The cuvée Grand Reserve and the 100% Grenache ”Family Reserve” reds are a favorite with our tour guests…as are the range of ancillary products (anyone for anti-aging cream made from grape skins?) made by Ronnie. The rosé “Loubié” is excellent here – cutting a deft path between the refreshing acidity of a Cotes de Provence and a tasty summer fruit laden Tavel. More recently they have added a negotiant business – meaning we can also taste a Mourchon Chateauneuf – juice is purchased from carefully selected small producers and blended at the Mourchon winery.
The Alary estate sits on the road to Rasteau with parcels of vines around the house, across the D69 known as the “Garrigue”” and an independent parcel on higher ground, around 250m, nearer the village of Carainne. Denis Alary, who has taken up the reigns from his father Daniel, is generally regarded as one of the top 4/5 private producers in the appellation . . . he is also an extremely affable man and the president of the local syndicate of vignerons.
Denis is the latest in a long line of family members who have made wine here since 1692. The Alary approach if one can summarise is about intensive care in the vineyard, traditional vinification in the winery . . . for instance, Denis stripped out the new stainless steel fermentation tanks some 5 years ago and reinstalled traditional cement tanks because he wasn’t happy with the temperature control achievable with the former! He also has no truck with small barrels/new wood . . . all maturation takes place in huge old wood foudre for a minimum of eight months.
The range comprises red and white AOC Cairanne, these are Grenache and Rousanne dominant respectively, a more tannic/spicy Reserve du Vignerone ou Brunote still Grenache dominant but with 20% Mouvedre, two premium red cuvees the Syrah biassed Font d’Estevenas (inky black, blackberry and smoke and notes of Provencal herbs), and the La Jean de Verde , from 60 year old Grenache, a veritable Vin de Garde.
Denis in his role as President of the producers is at the forefront of the push to promote Cairanne from CduR Villages status up to a full Cru . . . Denis’s opinion is that yes it will happen , but not before a long drawn out process perhaps taking quite a few years yet, that the key issue for the independent vigneron is not, for example, yield control (Alary is already producing only 35-38 hl/ha) but the delimitations of which parcels can be AOC Cairanne Cru, which simply CduR or even Vin du Pays. As every producer here like Alary owns a mosaic of land (something he argues is a real net benefit – the art is in the assemblage of these diverse terriors) this is going to be a tricky one to manage with the authorities.
Creve-Coeur was created by Pablo Hocht in 2010, Pablo having been prior the Chef du Cave for Louis Barroul at Chateau Saint-Cosme at Gigondas - so an impeccable blue chip training. The estate is small, jus 5 hectares, the wine itself made and raised in a picturesque hillside location just behind the ruin of the Seguret chateau- I love his address: simply '“ Derriere le Chateau”. There are two reds at Cotes du Rhone Villages level - Seguret and Sablet plus a simple CdeR red and a rosé. The domain is bio-dynamic, certified by Demeter, and looks very much the part - tasting room is located in the “élevage” shed on upturned barrels and in the great tradition of bio- dynamism there are animals around - in this instance rather alarming looking llamas. Pablo’s wines are intense, full bodied affairs packed with ripe fruit and loaded with chewy tannin, great local character in these wines - they will need a little time to come together but the wait will be well worthwhile. Grape varieties vary by cuvée but principally Grenache ( of course) , supported by Cinsault, some Syrah and in the muscular Sablet a good dose of Mourvedre. John Livingston-Lermonth, the UK Rhone critic, had his 2005 Seguret as one of the top CdRV wines of that vintage - it doesn’t surprise me. Incidentally Pablo’s father is an artist and for each vintage has designed a new attractive label for the wines. Pablo, an extremely engaging and personable man, has planning permission to build a more modern winery with a tasting room on the site….but I rather like the existing ram shackle set up for the time being! Definitely a domain to follow.