Wow! #HdR2011 is kicking off with a bang with the first panel, which is moderated by Christophe Tassan, sommelier at MIX in Las Vegas.
The room is full of Rhone wine fans from around the world! The French wine makers on the panel are very excited as well. Christophe began by explaining the popularity of Rhone style wines – they are food friendly delicious, and increasingly many producers are organic/biodynamic.
The first panelist was Michel Gassier from Chateau de Nages (Costieres de Nimes) who is French born, yet lived in America for many years, working as an engineer and marrying an American woman, before deciding to go back and work with his father at the family 4th generation winery. (note: from my travels in France, this is actually a familiar story!)
Michel had a very poetic presentation, speaking about his journey as a winemaker and tying it in with the theme of growing from a boy to a man. He brought a Viognier Chateau de Nages 2009 from Costieres de Nimes (Nortre Pais Blanc) which is delicious — extremely well balanced, with racy acidity, a long finish, and flavors of ripe fresh apricot and peach on the nose and palate. Michel also brought a “GSM” – grenache, syrah, mouvedre (Chateau de Nages 2009 Costieres de Nimes, Chaeau de Nage Vielles Vignes, Rouge) with minimum oak yet a spicey nose of concentrated red grapes.
Next up is Nicolas Haeni, from Domaine de Cabasse, who also comes from a long line of winemakers. One of his slides showed papers relating to his grandfather’s birth. Nicolas is passionate about terroir, and in his presentation showed the many ways he makes his wines more organic/earth friendly. He brought a cuvee from his properties in Seguret and Gigondas. The 2007 Domaine de Cabasse Cotes du Rhone Villages from Seguret is fabulous, very rich and well balanced with lively acidity and a long delicate finish. The Domaine de Cabasse 2007 Gigondas Rouge is elegant and clean on the palate, with extreme balance between the fresh acidity and tannins, along with concentrated red and black fruit.
Alberic Mazoyer from Domaine Alain Voge in Cornas spoke about his region in the North. He brought two red wines, with the first being Domaine Alain Voge 2008 Cotes du Rhone Les Peyrouses. Color of this wine is a concentrated garnet, with a rich, concentrated nose of minerals, earth, concentrated fruit, and on the palate a rich, balanced, concentrated wine with exceptional finesse. 100% Syrah. The second wine he brought was Domaine Alain Voge 2007 Cornas Les Vielles Vignes. This is syrah country, and Alberic mentioned the importance of soil and steep slopes in giving this wine its elegance. This is a classic vintage, classic of the style (syrah on granite soil). The wine has a rich concentrated nose of blackberries and fresh crushed peppers.