The magic of Close Bellane’s Côtes du Rhône comes from southern Rhône varieties grown in that region’s coolest clime: the estate’s elevation (high) and aspect (east-facing) and location (north) come together to mitigate the region’s heat. It’s a unique spot. The fruit is slow to mature, the wines are a pleasure to unwind.
Organically-grown fruit was hand-harvested from the steep valley-side vineyards; on average, vines were 30 years old. Bunches were partially de-stemmed and fermented by native yeast and punched-down twice daily. The wine matured in old Burgundy casks and concrete vats. Minimal sulfur was introduced, and the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. The final blend is equal parts Syrah and Grenache.
This wine brings together the best of two worlds: one the one hand, a refreshing, quaffable Côtes du Rhône Villages. On the other, a wine that is undeniably complex. Crimson, glinting with purple in the glass, the nose suggests black currant and spicy pepper with a dose of garrigue. Soft tannins on the palate are delicate enough to complement, rather than overpower, the wine’s distinctive fruit profile.
A 50-50 blend of Grenache and Syrah, aged partly in older barrels, the 2018 Cotes du Rhone Villages Valreas is a solid success in a vintage that wasn’t the easiest for vignerons to navigate. The Syrah seems to take the lead here, with notes of black olives, blueberries and even a touch of asphalt on the nose, but the Grenache does serve to round out the palate a bit. Medium-bodied, it’s silky in feel, with just a soft dusting of tannins on the finish.
89 points, Wine Advocate, Nov 2020