- Côtes-du-Rhône, Rhône, France
While co-ops still play a vital role in producing and selling wine across France, they are generally not known for innovation, let alone garnering attention as the quality leader in an appellation. While most cooperatives operate by paying growers by volume, relatively few pay for quality. Almost none are largely organically farmed, segregate their fermentations by parcel and soil type, rely solely on indigenous yeasts, and resolutely avoid enzymes, winemaking tricks, and excessive SO2. If you were aware of such a cooperative, wouldn’t you be intrigued?
These practices were not initially what drew Eric Solomon to visit Les Vignerons d’Estezargues in the mid-1990s but rumors of some soulful Syrah that was being bulked out to larger negociants. So curious to see for himself, Eric visited Estezargues and tasted what would become Domaine d’Andezon Syrah, one of the most dependable and affordable Côtes-du-Rhônes in our portfolio.
Les Vignerons d’Estézagues was only founded a few years before Eric’s fateful visit. Ten local families with small estates banded together to form an association to pool their resources and vinify their own wines. Rather than make generic bulk wine, from the start, they vinified their sites separately. Soon they discovered their best plots and cuvées from their varied terroirs and varieties. As chance would have it, Domaine d’Andezon is a member/estate of the cooperative, and they grow some rather remarkable Syrah. Since that time, we’ve added La Granacha, a cuvée of Grenache grown on a soil covered by nearly a meter of galets – a dead ringer for a mini-Châteauneuf-du-Pape.