We have been preaching the gospel about the southern Rhones in 2016, a vintage that thus far has not ceased to surprise and amaze us from the big gun Chateauneufs (tasted recently in Europe) to the littlest Cotes du Rhone. The ongoing problem, however, is that the wines are concentrated thanks to super low yield. So you have very compelling wines, just much less of them.
Think of this knockout little Cotes du Rhone, from one of the Rhone’s grand old families, as something you would have seen an email offer on except for that one, small issue. As we often do when we run across something this compelling, we try to corral as much of it as we possibly can. Sadly this time there simply wasn’t much to be had. Hence this modest, if no less enthusiastic piece.
Looking at the facts, you have an estate that isn’t very big in the first place (they only produces around 500 cases each of three different wines in a good year) and you have a vintage that was woefully short anyway thanks to Mother Nature. The fact that it is brought in by a small, relatively new importer may have also come into play, but probably not.
As to the wine, the Domaine Burle Cotes du Rhone 2016 might be the most impressive thing we have yet had from the Burle domaine. Like some of the other 2016 Cotes du Rhones we have featured, this wine has an uncommon power and grace. The vintage was very successful overall, with the wines showing deep, almost glowing mulberry color and unprecedented power thanks in particular to the Grenache (the wine is 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah from 40-50 year-old vines).
What makes 2016 special is not only the size and concentration of the wines, but the harmony and fine tuning they show from top to bottom. Enter Burle, an estate that typically makes muscular, if sometimes a little rustic wines, here showing like it is dressed in its Sunday best. Organic farming, bottled unfiltered and unfined, we suspect in this case they aren’t just going with the current trend. They have always done it this way.
Rich, lifted, uncommon verve and balance, you’ve likely had Chateauneufs that aren’t this compelling, and you certainly paid more than $15 for them. A must while it lasts, the ‘little’ wines in the southern Rhone in 2016 are special, even if the label here looks like it is some sort of ‘sun’ vision from the 70’s. The media hasn’t really picked up on it in a big way and the ‘buzz’ hasn’t started…yet. Take advantage while you can, but with 2016s you’ll likely need to move a little faster.