winebottlesPhotos Provided by Domaine de Beaurenard

Appearing before a room of sixty-five law students, eighth generation wine maker Victor Coulon led the group on a tasting tour of his family’s wines from the Rhône Valley in the south of France. The informative presentation drew on photographs and maps of the property as well as visual animations depicting the soil and subsoil that, for centuries, have driven Beaurenard’s terroire-focused wines.

The first taste of the night was a 2012 Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc. This blend of Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Roussane, Picpoul, and Picardan was a totally new style for most of the club’s students. With aromas of fresh fruit and white flowers, a tasteful oak influence from 20% oak aging, and a lingering finish, it provided a great start to the night.

Next up was another wine new to the palates of nearly the entire membership – Domaine de Beaurenard’s 2012 Rasteau red blend. Coming from a region northeast of Chateauneuf du Pape in the Rhône Valley, this wine is made up of 80% Granache and 20% Syrah. Plentiful red fruit on the nose and palate was supported by an underlying earthy minerality, making for a forthright, pleasant tasting experience.

Attention then turned to three different vintages of the Domaine de Beaurenard field blend, which features 70% Grenache and about 10% each of Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvédre, rounded out with the other nine Chateauneuf du Pape AOC varietals (e.g. Terret, Piqupoule, Muscardin). Victor compares these small additions of lesser-known grape varietals to the blend to “seasoning the cuisine,” and I agree that the wines have a depth and roundness rarely apparent in single varietal wines such as Merlot or Cabernet. The 2012 vintage had a very young nose and the aroma reminded me of Beaujolais Noveau, a wine made of Gamay grapes which is bottled and released just after harvest and fermentation. It had flavors of blackberry and sour cherry supported by a fresh acidity. The more approachable 2011 vintage benefitted from a little bit of age and showed a spicy complexity on the nose and flavors of very ripe strawberry and raspberry on the palate. The 2007 vintage acted its age with well-integrated tannins, musky and earthy tertiary notes, a touch of unsweetened cocoa, and a long finish. The wine is not currently available in the US and was sent to CLS directly from the winery!

Finally, the tasting featured two vintages of the “cuvee Boisrenard”, the name of which pays tribute to the Domaine’s original title (meaning “fox forest”) before a clerical error caused the change to its current name (which means “beautiful fox”). The wines feature a special selection of grapes in roughly the same proportion as the Chateauneuf du Pape red blend. The 2012 had extremely forceful fruit on the nose and palate, which is typical of a young wine, as well as a distinct anise aroma and a little bit of vanilla on the finish. It would definitely benefit from a few years of aging. The 2011 vintage was my favorite wine of the night, showing great fragrance and floral notes on the nose and bright acidity on the palate, as well as a lingering, elegant finish.

 

Taylor Hartstein is the President of the Devinimus Wine Society at Columbia Law School.