So we didn’t actually introduce a new sound at The Enchantment Under the Sea dance, but we were close to sending McFly back in the DeLorean to keep our Lot 30 Côtes du Rhône from fading from our portfolio. In reality, we had to travel from 2011 to 2014 to get back to 2009. This did not necessitate a flux capacitor, but it did require a unique business model, a dedication to quality, patience, and a bit of luck. Fortunately, we awoke with renewed confidence and a great wine.
Let’s take a moment to look at the past. After the blistering summer of 2003, the rest of the decade was a succession of exceptional vintages in the Southern Rhone…during the odd numbered years. It was no wonder that we were able to find a highly rated and truly enjoyable 2009 Côtes du Rhône for the inaugural 90+ Cellars Lot 30. Simply put, it was not hard to like this wine. It was medium bodied, fruit driven, and had enough structure and acidity to be taken seriously. The 2009 vintage epitomized what was so appealing about Côtes du Rhône: affordable and enjoyable, while still ‘real wine’.
Next came 2010, which strove to be a more balanced interpretation of 09. For most producers, it succeeded in this endeavor, with Lot 30 being no exception. This vintage brought more structure and character to the wine. Even the late rains of 2011 did not detract from its quality. Over the two subsequent vintages, the intense fruit of 2009 was slowly replaced with increased tannic structure and a pleasant earthy character.
In a sense, Biff entered our lives with the 2012. Seemingly, every Côtes du Rhône we tasted from that vintage, even from our producer of Lot 30, just did not seem to deliver the quality at the price we had become accustomed to. This trend continued even into the samples we received of 2013. I am in no way implying that these two vintages lacked quality. In truth, the issue was with quantity. Both produced extremely small crops, meaning a majority of the grapes made their way into cru and village labeled wines and top cuvees. This left little quality fruit for affordable regional wines.
This is where the business of wine meets the nature of wine. Most producers and companies have to take the good with the bad as it relates to vintages in the wine industry. Quite often, this means price fluctuations or aggressive sales tactics. A fortunate few (thankfully 90+ Cellars is included in this small list) are positioned to take advantage of optimal vintages and avoid the tough years. As much as owning a vineyard has a great appeal, buying as opposed to growing) has its freedom.
After conceding to the fact that we were probably going to retire Lot 30’s number after the 2012 vintage, samples of the 2014 vintage found their way to our office in spring 2015. What we tasted in tank was enough to convince us to invest in the future. Now that the finished wine has landed in bottle, we believe our patience and risk have paid off. This is not a resurrection of ‘09 in the flesh, so to speak, but it is a return to a fruit forward wine…but with a certain charm and freshness.
I know it’s the 2014 vintage, and you may not be ready for it yet, but trust me. YOU’RE gonna love it!
Michael Munk is our Portfolio Manager as well as Sales Manager in CT and RI.
You can try Lot 30 Côtes du Rhône at 15% off in our online store – now through Thursday 7/16! Click here to shop.