When we first got into Rhones in a big way back in the early 90s, Domaine Cayron was certainly one of, if not the ‘standard’ in the appellation. Always very big, bold and expressive, the wines were loaded with blackberry and black cherry fruit that could best be described as a walk on the wild side. Lots of well infused gravel, anise, roasted herb or dark chocolate nuance could pop up in any version, but they did all share a certain jump-out-of-the-glass fruit component. They also, in those early days, sported a fair bit of chewy tannin, as did most Gigondas.
For many years Cayron was marketed by Kermit Lynch. Not sure if his leaving the Kermit portfolio, or a bit of a slump in his winemaking was the cause, but Michel Faraud’s wine kind of dropped out of sight for a while. The current purveyor referred to this estate, founded in 1840, as the ‘benchmark producer in the region’. Not sure if we buy into that entirely. Domaine des Bosquets and Saint Damien have been doing some outstanding work and there are a number of rising stars in the region as well. But with this particular vintage, Cayron is definitely deserving of the limelight again.
The 2015 Domaine du Cayron Gigondas has collected a nice range of reviews including ‘over 90’ barrel scores from Wine Advocate, Jeb Dunnuck and Vinous Media and we can see why. That bouncy, gregarious, in-your-face herb-laced fruit component is back with a vengeance. While everybody’s enthusiasm is clear, the writers’ descriptors have quite a range from plum to boysenberry. We’ll borrow the prose from Vinous’ Josh Raynolds as a reference, “Dark ruby. Potent mineral-and-smoke-accented cherry, boysenberry and garrigue scents pick up a sexy incense nuance as the wine opens up. Sweet, seamless and penetrating on the palate, offering intense red and blue fruit, spicecake and lavender pastille flavors and a hint of smoked meat. Concentrated yet light on its feet, playing power off finesse with a smooth hand and finishing impressively long, sweet and youthfully tannic…”
While he commented on the wine’s ‘youthfulness’, we would point out that this tasting note was based on a barrel sample from a region not exactly famous for its polish. Michel Faraud’s three daughters are at the helm now, under his watchful eye of course. However we sense a little more seamlessness to the back half of this wine and a less rough-and-tumble demeanor.
All of that put together makes for the best Cayron in some time. They do all the right things here…hand harvesting, indigenous yeasts, and bottling unfiltered and unfined. As you would expect, Grenache is the workhorse here (78%) with the balance from the ‘usual suspects’ (14% Syrah, 6% Cinsault, 2% Mourvèdre), all finished in large older barrels.
Is Cayron back or is this outstanding, mouth-filling red just the result of a sensational vintage? Can’t answer that just yet, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying this one for what it is…big, bold, and delicious.