Les Pallieres Vertical

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I ran this vertical tasting on one of my favourite southern Rhone wines some time ago and am glad to finally be able to put the experience to electrons. Our group tasted a 2003, 2004, and 2005 Les Pallieres Gigondas, all of which had something interesting to offer. Here are the notes, beginning with an overview of each vintage.

2003: The southern Rhone needed patience in harvesting since drought delayed ripening. The grapes were perfectly healthy and quality was exceptional, despite a slight lack of acidity. The wines have high alcohol levels and very rich, mature tannins: the 2003s will keep for a very long time.

2004: After the 2002 rains and the heat wave of 2003, 2004 marked a return to a classic vintage in the Rhone Valley. Very favourable weather conditions during September produced healthy ripe grapes. The harvest schedule was normal: between September 6 and mid-October. Concentration is remarkable and alcohol levels are quite high, but the consequences of 2003 are still visibile: yields are 20 percent lower than normal. in the south, the 2004’s seem better balanced than the 2003s.

2005: A rainy spring, a dry summer, and a bright, sunny September gave a winning ticket to the Rhone Valley in 2005. With a maturity that came early, this vintage has produced rich though extremely balanced wines. In the south, the 2005s could match the excellent 1990s. The Grenache is stunning, with a remarkable balance between alcohol, fruit, and acidity. Yields were generous.

Wine #1 – Les Pallieres Gigondas 2003

Cherry, peppery and a bit tart. This had a moderate body, but was full flavoured with mid-grained tannins and classic scorched earth flavours. What makes this stand out is its bouquet and roundness, especially when paired appropriately (try it with braised short ribs). Perhaps my favourite vintage of this wine as it keeps evolving everytime I taste it.


Wine #2 – Les Pallieres Gigondas 2004

Super fruity, up front and in your face. This had a shorter finish than the 03, and perhaps was slightly unbalanced with a tad too much alcohol on the way down. I also missed some of the earthy and peppery notes of the 03. Still good, but perhaps less well structured than the previous year.

Very Good+

Wine #3 – Les Pallieres Gigondas 2005

This wine still needs time to develop. The nose was surprisingly thin and overall the wine was much more closed than 03 and 04. However, the fruit was pure and very balanced with notes of chocolate and cherry. What marks this as special, though, is its amazing elegance for a Grenache. Perhaps not typical for southern Rhone, I still think this will be absolutely fantastic in a few years when some bottle age gives fuller expression to the brilliant fruit lying in waiting for the patient.

Very Good (I’m guessing will be Excellent in 1-2 years)

$40/bottle across the board


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