What We Say 2003 Roquebrussane - Saint Joseph
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Mission Codename: The Saint of the northern Rhone
Operative: Agent White & Agent Red
Objective: Find a delicious value oriented northern Rhone wine for our operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Maison Bouachon
Wine Subject: 2003 Roguebrussane – Saint-Joseph AOC
Winemaker: Christian Abry
Saint-Joseph AOC is located along the western bank of the Rhone river stretching from Condrien in the north (near Cote-Rotie AOC and Condrieu AOC) to Saint-Beray in the south. The northern Rhone’s wines are both influenced by its neighbors to the south but also show strong connections to its northerly neighbor, Burgundy. Syrah is the primary red grape of the region with most of the wines being single varietal. The climate, although is influenced by the Mediterranean, has warmer days and cooler nights than the southern Rhone.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark purple with garnet hued edges and a deep dark clear core. When swirled, the wine shows a bouncy surface that keeps turning for a long time – before it leaves behind chubby and forking legs that start slow, then streak down the glass.
Smell – A medium bouquet of soft ripe and sweet fruit with a distinct red hard-candy component. Hints of licorice, smoke and spice also emerge as you explore this wine.
Feel – Smooth, warm and dry on the attack with medium firm tannins and a slightly tangy mid-palate. Medium bodied with medium acidity.
Taste – Flavors of red fruit including ripe sweet raspberry and strawberry. The red hard candy flavor that makes an appearance in the nose, returns, along with tart blackberry. A touch of spice and licorice follows behind.
Finish – Clean and medium in length with ripe fruit and candy.
Conclusion – While the wines of the northern Rhone are less known that their brethren in the southern Rhone, this Saint-Joseph shows the true character of the primarily varietal wines of the region. Classic Syrah flavors along with a distinctive fruit and Terroir make this wine a both a joy to drink and also fun to share.
Please enjoy our original mission report from our first visit to Maison Bouachon:
It was a day of marathon tastings in the southern Rhone. Agent Terroir suggested that we enjoy thee rest of the afternoon in Marseille. It was just a short drive from Avignon. Terroir suggested that we find a cafe near the Vieux Port to see the big yachts, enjoy the sun fade into the Mediterranean and perhaps one more glass of wine, this time, not spitting…
We settled in and just as the garcon arrived to take our order, my communicator buzzed with an incoming PIN message:
LFML @ 1845 CARGO RWY 13 P.U. AR
Let me translate… Be at the Marseille Airport at 6:45 PM to pick up Agent Red at the cargo facility at the end of runway 13. Problem was that it was 6:45 and I was sitting at the port, while my plane was arriving. I apologized to Terroir and hired a cab to take me to the airport. As I arrived, I could tell Red was frustrated for having to wait for me to pick him up. Excuses wouldn’t do. Even if it was OPS fault for the late message.
He had an overnight bag and a dossier in had. Handing me both, he said lets get started, I don’t have time to waste. Red was anxious, but unfamiliar with the French way. His planned tasting would have to wait until the morning. Jumping in the car I said where to? “Back to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, I know you where just there but look at this”, as he handed me the dossier.
As I skimmed the file, Red told me about the Skalli Family, owners of Napa Valley’s St. Supery. How they were committed to the perpetuation of wine making tradition and that we needed to gather some intel on the negociant Maison Bouachon.
Maison Bouachon had quite a history dating back over 100 years as one of the best barrel makers in the region. More recently, Maison Bouachon was quickly becoming known for making great wines including from the Rhone including Vacqueyras, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Saint-Joseph.
By the time we arrived in the village it was late and thankfully Red was fading. I don’t think I could do another tasting after the marathon tasting from earlier in the day. This would give me some time to review the dossier and make the arrangements for the morning. I called Agent Terroir and he said he could arrange for a meeting with Christian Abry, Maison Bouachon’s winemaker. He also told me about the great tradition of the family. Needless to say, I was getting excited to taste the wine.
After a quick cup of coffee we headed out to Maison Bouachon. Once we arrived, we reviewed the vineyards and then headed to the back of the house, where on the top of an artisan barrel was an arrangements of gardenias and a bottle of the Roquebrussane and a few glasses. With nobody in site but the farm hands tending the vines, I popped open the bottle and poured a glass for Red and myself. The puzzled look on his face said it all, as did my response…
“Accueillir en France, apprécier le vin!”
And enjoy we did!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the the Saint-Joseph AOC can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Skalli Grand Vin du Rhone
In XVIIth century the village was called Saint Joseph; but, during the French Revolution, all the names with a saint were recalled. At this time the name of Roquebrussane appears for a short time meaning brown stone like the soil there.
Maison Bouachon selects the finest terrains of the Rhône Valley and for more than a century has enjoyed privileged links with the wine producers of this appellation.
About This Wine:
Garnet red with still young tints. Complex aromas, it associates red crunchy fruits lightly lemonade like blackberry, redcurrant, raspberry and subtle notes of liquorice candy. Attack is franc. Sweet spices are largely dominating the beginning with notes of pepper and chocolate. The finish is voluptuous on red fruits.
Vineyard soil: In front of l’Hermitage, in an area long about 40 kilometers, Saint Joseph’s vineyard is one of the most important on the right hand of Rhône river in the north of the valley. The soil is made with abrupt schist hills (dark stones) with an exceptional sun exposure and low yields.
Grape varieties: There is one variety 100 % “Syrah à petits grains” in the north of the valley, very aromatic and concentrated variety.
Wine making: The processing consists in selection of parcels: old plots nearly one century old, best exposures, low yields. Grapes are harvested by hands and rigorously sorted out. Grapes are vinified separately after total de-stemming. Long macerations (3-4 weeks) are done with frequent pumping over and daily control (analysis-tasting).
Maturing: We age the wine in French oak barrels and wooden tuns during 10 to 12 months before the blending. We also keep the wine in bottles during several months in our cellar, at good temperature and no light before selling.
Vintage: In 2003 the summer was really hot. Consequently the harvesting was done earlier. Thus wines have the flavour of really matured fruit, nearly candied with clear colour.
“A barrel-maker born in Châteauneuf-du-Pape will eventually think of filling his barrels.” It came to no surprise when the Bouachon family, barrel-makers who had already been selecting grapes to produce wine for others, decided to fill their own barrels in 1898. Maison Bouachon the winery was born.
During the first half of the 20th century, Maison Bouachon was immersed in the viticultural tradition of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Over time, the Maison became familiar with the diversity of regional vines and terroirs while establishing strong ties with local winegrowers. Having gained a foothold in the region, Maison Bouachon continued developing its winemaking skill with the acquisition of barrel chais during the 50s: this included mastering the vinification process as well as perfecting the delicate art of blending and the aging.
Maison Bouachon developed its passion for terroir while seeking the utmost in quality. Close relations were established with growers from one generation to the next. Combining resources and know-how through solid partnerships made it possible to get the most out of vines and terroirs. Exceptional parcels were carefully selected. Grenache, the king of grape varieties in the southern Rhône valley, became central to blending. In the chais, beside the original barrels, new oak casks were used to age the best vintages.
In 2001, Maison Bouachon entered a new era when it became part of Skalli Family Wines. Already considered to be a great name in southern French wine, the Maison now aimed to be the most prominent wine of the appellation Châteauneuf-du Pape. Vintages of extraordinary refinement and complexity were conceived within the Rhône appellation tradition, their well-rounded bouquet revealing a multitude of incredibly fruity, spicy aromas.
Combining full-bodied harmony with exquisite refinement, Maison Bouachon wines remain true to their southern origins today. Served in both traditional and gourmet restaurants, they are also found in wine shops and specialty stores in France and around the world.
Maison Bouachon wines have been expressing the rich variety of their terroir for over a century. They have now become the most prominent wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe, the choicest appellation of southern France.