When a producer (whose scoring record makes the term “90+” seem inadequate) informs you that he is in possession of what he believes is the French version of your Monster Red Blend, you take a moment to reevaluate many of your personal beliefs. It’s like a Sasquatch hunter receiving a letter from a Tibetan, stating he has found a Yeti who wants you to stop harassing his cousin. There was a certain group cringe when the decision was made to name our 90+ Cellars Lot 100 the “Monster Red Blend”, but when someone from the hollowed grounds of some of the greatest crus of the southern Rhone thinks it’s a great idea, you bite!
That’s what we did. This was the opportunity to purchase great wine, but with an added challenge of having to convince others that what they know is wrong.
So here stands the royal beast, 90+ Cellars Lot 121 Cuvée Royale. Sixty percent old vine Grenache and forty percent higher elevation Syrah, this monster offers the best of the Rhone Valley dressed in luxurious French oak. It’s the devil you know, dressed as a stranger.
So what’s the problem? Well, what’s the going rate for a Côtes du Rhône? “If I’m paying $15, it must be good, and they better own the vineyard!” Trust me, I thought the same. Have you ever tasted a $20 Chateaunuef-du-Pape? Was it good? Based off my experience, your answer is NO! It is an extremely difficult challenge to create high quality wine at a bargain price from the most esteemed terroirs in the world. On the other hand, a skilled wine maker CAN make exceptional wines affordably…IF they are willing to ignore what the final label is required to state.
I’m not saying that our Cuvée Royale is a Chateaunuef-du-Pape labeled as a Côtes du Rhône. To me, it’s something better. It is prime example of what a talented and innovative winemaker can create when he chooses to focus his efforts on crafting a modern style wine from select parcels in some of the most historical appellations in the world. Like a great host, this wine shows plenty of generosity and elegance. The concentrated berry aromas of the old vine Grenache are complimented by the more floral qualities of the Syrah. Even with extended maturation in oak, there is a balance and softness to the wine. The power and weight is what gives this wine its “monster” quality, but it is polished and refined.
Even in the heat of the summer, this monster is welcome at my table anytime.
Michael Munk is our Portfolio Manager and Director of Sales in CT/RI.