Domaine Maby “Variations”
Côtes du Rhône 2017
Here's more about the 2017 Domaine Maby “Variations” Côtes du Rhône:
The terrific 2017 Domaine Maby “Variations” Côtes du Rhône comes from two estate vineyards totaling only 6.2 hectares. The locations are exceptional, both are just across the Rhône from Châteauneuf du Pape. One is on the slopes of Saint Laurent des Arbres (just north of Lirac), the other is even closer to the river and to Châteauneuf du Pape, in the terroir of Roquemaure.
The 52 year-old vines are farmed with a laser focus on quality --regardless of what that means for yields. In the excellent 2017 vintage, yields were a minuscule 24 hl/ha. Low yields means better flavor and aroma concentration; for comparison, typical Côtes du Rhône yields are 50-55 hl/ha, and typical Châteauneuf du Pape yields are around 30 hl/ha.
To make the wine, Richard Maby de-stemmed the fruit and fermented the varieties separately. During the slow 3-4 week fermentations, he used both punch-downs and pump-overs for gentle extraction of color, aroma, and flavor. The wine then matured in stainless steel tanks before bottling in July 2018.
Here's how it tastes:
France's Gault et Millau Guide wrote about a recent vintage (they haven't reviewed the great 2017 vintage yet): "It has it all, the velvety tenderness, the power of spices, with round, suave fruit sweetly wrapping the structured frame; it also has a very attractive price. Tasted blind it will dethrone ‘certain appellations’ unashamedly."
The 2017 Côtes du Rhône “Variations” is thrilling. Its velvety texture, rich pure flavors, length, and powerful concentration set it above almost every Côtes du Rhône on the market. It’s more like Gigondas or Châteauneuf du Pape. The color is deep ruby purple. The enticing aromas bring to mind blackberries, black cherries, pepper, lavender, and violets. The palate is intensely flavored, deep, full, and rich. There's loads of deep black and blue fruit complemented with subtle peppery spice and licorice. The tannins are ripe, giving a sense of structure to the ripe fruit as it stretches to a long and velvet-textured finish. Young and concentrated, give it a half hour in the decanter then serve it with a grilled ribeye steak or even an herbed rotisserie chicken. The impressive concentration suggests it will keep at least 4 more years.