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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Domaine de la Mordorée Rosé La Dame Rousse

France (Rhone)

grenache (60%), syrah (10%), cinsault (10%), mourvedre (10%), bourboulenc (5%) chairette (5%)

If you are going to have a picnic, this is the place to have it — Villandry, with one of the most spectacular château gardens in all of France. We spent several memorable hours there. For sustenance — a bottle of rosé from my favourite wine shop in Saumur and a couple of sandwiches from a nearby boulangerie.

Domaine de la Mordorée Rosé La Dame Rousse 2009

Bright strawberry beyond the bottle’s clear glass, offering an irresistible invitation to uncork. Aromas of wild berry fruit, and, with time out of the bottle, specifically wild strawberry, and mint. This is rosé of substance, dry, yet with a full-mouth expression. Fine structure, exceptional fare for any summer picnic, no matter what other flora might compete for attention.  $

Domaine de la Mordorée is the wine estate of brothers Fabrice and Christophe Delorme, in the southern Rhône Valley, 60 hectares in 38 parcels in 8 different districts of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Lirac, and, in the case of our rosé, Tavel. It dates from only 1986, when the brothers disposed of all their other business interests and plunged into winemaking, adopting for the domaine name the local poetic word for the woodcock which flies over the vineyards during its migration. It’s winemaking with quite brilliant results if the words of a host of wine critics and over 160 awards are any indication.

But more than medals around the necks of bottles, it is the single-minded dedication to their vines and cellar production that is outstanding here. Hands-on passion for the culture of winemaking. They pride themselves in their intimate knowledge of their vines and terroir, and like to think of themselves as ‘small craftsmen’, making ‘unique wines in small quantities, for a clientele of passionate wine lovers.’

The domaine is rooted in the region Tavel, despite the fact that in many wine drinkers’ minds Lirac and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are considerably higher in the wine hierarchy. Yet recently it would seem rosé is reaffirming the strong reputation it once held, creating new interest in Tavel, historically home to the best rosés in France, wines much praised as far back in time as the wine-drinking Popes of Avignon and King Louis XIV.

Here the soil is mix of clay/chalk and sand, favoured by whitish flat stones which reflect the sun during the day and pebbles that absorb heat, releasing it during the night. Annual sunshine averages 200 days. And, of course, there is the famous Mistral, blowing for upward of 160 days a year. The organic approach to the soil is what the owners call “durable agriculture”, maintaining a rich microbic life. Weeds are encouraged as a guard against erosion and as a habitat for the predators of unwanted insects. A pesticide-free, reasoned approach is the guiding principle, even if it means some crop loss each year.

Hand harvesting follows, as does carefully monitored work in the cellar, led by the need to keep the processes natural and with the thought that the work in the vineyards has presented the Dolorme brothers with the best possible fruit for any given vintage.

It certainly gives a new appreciation of the woodcock, and new meaning to a summer picnic.


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