- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Domaine Santa Duc, “Heritage,” 2000, $18

In France’s southern Rhone Valley, the 2000 vintage proved prodigious, with both high quality and a large, ripe crop. Domaine Santa Duc, one of the leading estates in Gigondas, harvested so many grapes that, once all the barrels were filled, a small lot of grenache remained. Rather than blend it into a Cotes du Rhone, the winemaker decided to age it in tank and then bottle it separately — as “Heritage,” a name chosen to honor the Domaine’s long history with this varietal.

The grenache vines in the Santa Duc vineyards average 45 years old. They produce wines marked by flavors reminiscent of blue- and blackberries, with notable hints of pepper and earth. When used for Gigondas, Santa Duc’s grenache is blended with small amounts of syrah and mourvedre, and aged in cask. In “Heritage,” the absence of wood and those more tannic grapes result in a lighter, softer wine, one that seems forward and friendly.

Although this wine is easygoing, it displays plenty of nuanced subtlety. Drink it with roast chicken or pork, medium-weight dishes that will not overwhelm its many charms.

While it should age well for three to five years, it tastes delicious right now. Since no “Heritage” was produced in 2001, it may well be a one-shot deal — special stuff from a special year. (Imported by Robert Kacher)

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