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To all Wine Exchangers,
Back in the early-to-mid-90s there was something of a ‘modest’ period for potentially great vintages of red Rhone wines.  Perhaps coincidentally, we started seeing a ‘new breed’ of wine emerging from the South of France.  About that time a number of vignerons came to the realization that, with the warm climate, Mediterranean breezes and old vines, they had a shot at making some pretty serious juice if they employed more meticulous viticultural and winemaking practices.  In our minds, that was when the ‘Sud’ as we affectionately call it (the south of France) was born.
In the latter part of the 90s, the Rhone went on an unprecedented run of vintages and people didn’t pay as much attention to the ‘new wave’ of producers emerging down south.   It was tough getting the spotlight away from the more established appellations like Chateauneuf and Gigondas.  Still, certain estates in the south persisted and grabbed a piece of the marketplace by virtue of a number of distinctive, full flavored wines that delivered remarkable value.  The labels you have become accustomed to for both great value like Bila Haut and Lafage and elite performance like Gilles Troullier simply weren’t visible or didn’t exist yet back in those early days.  But they are pretty darned important now.
Domaine des Aires Hautes was one of the early players we saw back in those ‘pioneer’ days.  We remember selling a breakthrough bottling called Clos l’Escandil from them over two decades ago.  But we really hadn’t seen much of them since until one day this little jewel rolled into the office.
Meet the new Aires Hautes, same as the old Aires Hautes, only better.  For those who aren’t familiar with the region, Minervois is a sub-region of the Languedoc, and La Liviniere is a more specific ‘sweet spot’ of the Minervois, sitting on a chalky plateau facing the Mediterranean and protected from the Atlantic weather influences by the Massif Central.  The Chabbert family owns 28 hectares in this lovely spot and Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre are the components in this wine, pretty much in that order.  Hand-harvesting, destemming, concrete tanks and used oak are the practices, and the vineyards are farmed at a low 28 hl/ha.
While our memories are still fond of those breakout efforts so long ago, the Domane des Air Hautes Minervois la Liviniere 2015 is clearly a serious step up and a fantastic beverage for its sub-$20 tab.  While it has the classic pepper, garrigue, lavender and floral notes one associates with this very distinctive village, they play a complex but subtle role in support of a big rush of glossy blackberry fruit that is rich and polished but never ponderous.  It can play to a much wider audience than most Languedocs you have likely tasted. The 2015 vintage clearly dealt the family Chabbert a winning hand and they brought it home in style.
While the tasting notes from Jeb Dunnuck, writing for the Wine Advocate at the time, were based on the barrel tasting, it is clear to us this wine got into the bottle exactly as it should have.  His prose was enthusiastic, It’s a textbook, perfumed, full-bodied and incredibly sexy 2015 that offers notes of blueberries, flowers, lavender and jammy blackberries. It could be a true superstar and is loaded with potential…92-94 points.”
From our perspective, as you may have guessed, ‘potential’ achieved and this truly is one of the best efforts from the ‘south’ we have tasted this year.  We’d dare say if Jeb went back to score the finished wine another time, it would rate at the higher end of the range.  It is a ‘beaut’ and we bought every last box.  Sadly, it was only 50 cases.  Good hunting.
Domaine des Aires Hautes Minervois La Liviniere 2015
 

 

92-94 Points!  A step up over the classic Minervois, yet not yet bottled, the 2015 Minervois la Liviniere comes from vines near the heart of the appellation and is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. It’s a textbook, perfumed, full-bodied and incredibly sexy 2015 that offers notes of blueberries, flowers, lavender and jammy blackberries. It could be a true superstar and is loaded with potential. - Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate #230, April 2017
ONLY $17.98

 

 

 

 

 

 

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