Thursday, January 12, 2006

Domaine les Aphillantes Tasting

Last night I prepared campanelle pasta with smoked sausage, shrimps, and peas. It is an Italian version of low-country boil or frogmore stew. Earlier in the week I had picked up a couple of the many bottlings of Cotes-du-Rhone Villages by Domaine Les Aphillantes from the excellent 2001 vintage. The producer, Daniel Boulle, had until recently, sold his crop to the local winemaking co-op, but he now bottles the wines under his own label. Both of these wines are made from the traditional Southern Rhone varietals, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, but they are blended differently to produce markedly distinct styles of wine.

The Cuvée des Galets is made with 60% Grenache and 20% each of Syrah and Mourvedre. It was certainly the rounder, more extracted wine of the pair. Very ripe, and as Stephanie noted, almost syrupy, the wine gave off aromas of pine nuts, bananas, and cherries. Stephanie found the wine rather tannic, but I thought the tannins were reasonably well moderated by the fruit.

The Cuvée 3 Cépages is a blend of equal parts Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, and perhaps for this reason, it struck me as better balanced. Although the varietal of most Chateauneuf-du-Papes is more like the Galets, the 3 Cepages bottling clearly seemed to mimic this wines of the more renowned appelation. Stephanie noted candied dark fruits and dried cranberries. I concurred, adding tobacco, cumin, and that characteristic citrus flavor that one finds in some Chateauneufs like Vieux Telegraphe. The finish on the 3 Cepages was longer, slightly drier, and more acidic than the Galets, making it, to my mind, more compelling and food-friendly.

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