Domaine Les Pallières Rosé

What do you get when you combine one of the best wine regions in the world with one of the best winemakers in the world? You get this rosé, and it is brilliant.

Producer: Domaine Les Pallières

Region: Gigondas, Southern Rhône Valley, France

Grape(s): Clairette, Grenache, Cinsault

Tasting Notes: Lemon peel, tangerine, red berries, white peach, steely minerality

Pairings: Literally everything, but especially the beach.

Price (approximately): $18

Buy: Fujioka's Wine Times


My Musings:

This wine combines so many of my favorite things. It hails from one of my favorite regions in the world, Southern Rhône, and is carefully crafted by one of my favorite winemakers, Daniel Brunier! How can we go wrong with this superstar combination?!?

I first met Daniel at the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, where he showcased his flagship Châteauneuf-du-pape Domaine, Vieux Télégraphe, in a vertical tasting seminar. Daniel’s wit and wisdom displayed a passionate and long-standing family tradition of winemaking in the Rhône Valley. I also resonate with his “no pipes, no pumps, no screws” motto that concisely conveys his attempt to ensure “maximum wine in the wine.” Grapes, not gimmicks, guarantee good wine. The result is a consistently beautiful expression of this classic French winemaking philosophy.

Reaching beyond his home in the New Castle of the Pope, Daniel found an exciting, new venture in the neighboring Gigondas appellation. Domaine Les Pallières, a working farm since the Fifteenth Century, found distinction over time for producing wines of impeccable character. Unfortunately, a series of events and neglect resulted in the Domaine falling into disrepair. While the farm goats offered no complaints, wine production struggled. Here, Daniel and his business partner, Kermit Lynch, found opportunity. Brunier and Lynch purchased the Domaine in 1998, and the Pallières revival began in haste.

A mere 10 miles from the famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the village of Gigondas extends from the plain east of the Ouvèze River up to the Dentelles de Montmirail, a wondrous tableau of jagged limestone hills. Gigondas enjoys a cooler climate than its more famous neighbor due to higher altitude and a steady Mistral wind that blows down the valley. Domaine du Pallières cultivates vineyards on the slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail that range between 250 and 400 meters in altitude. Sand and clay mixed amongst the limestone yields a wine of structure and excellent minerality.  

This wine is dry, elegant, and wonderfully structured, with fruit taking a back seat to citrus (lemon peel, tangerine) and steely mineral elements. As the wine warms and opens, red berry fruit and white peach provide a sweet balance to the dry and crisp body. Overall, a delightfully refreshing rosé just in time for the warming weather!

In Honolulu, pick up a bottle for only $18 at Fujioka's Wine Times.


2015 Kirkland Signature Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de Nalys

Year: 2015

Producer: Kirkland Signature

Region: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône Valley, France

Grape(s): Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarése, Counoise and Mourvedré

Alcohol: 14.5%

Price (approximately): $18

My Musings:

This week I make a pitch for Kirkland Signature wines. I have said in the past that Kirkland wines do not customarily bestow significant depth or complexity, nor is that their primary intention. At the price they are offered, that would indeed be a lofty expectation. While the occasional Kirkland label can come with surprising quality, these wines are better understood as providing an affordable entry to many classic wine regions around the world. They are excellent for this purpose, so please explore! Keep in mind, however, that to experience the best of a region, you must journey beyond the Kirkland empire.

Nonetheless, it is really incredible that Kirkland has this offering (and other expensive regions as well, such as Brunello and Bordeaux). At $17.99, it would be extraordinarily difficult to explore Châteauneuf-du-Pape - one of my favorite regions in France. Kirkland gives you that chance. So, if you haven't yet explored this region, take the opportunity!

The wine is ruby in color and medium bodied with smooth tannins. On the palate, predominantly red fruit (cherry, strawberry), licorice, and some subtle spice, floral and herbal notes. It is surprisingly thin for a Châteauneuf, and rather straightforward and one-dimensional. At it's price point, it would be unfair to expect much more.

Tip: let the wine decant for at least 30 minutes prior to consumption. It can feel a little tight at first, but the wine opens nicely with time to display more of the red fruit and licorice expected from the region.

If you have never had a Châteauneuf, you should definitely pick up a bottle; it is a good introduction to the region and style. Just remember that Châteauneuf-du-Pape has much more to offer. If, like me, you love Châteauneuf, but don't always want to spend $40 (or more) on a bottle, this would be a more cost-effective (albeit less complex) alternative.