Thursday, July 4, 2019

Lafage Tessellae Old Vines GSM 2015

Domaine Lafage Tessellae Old Vines GSM 2015

Since we're heading to the south of France to visit friends and the wine country in a couple of weeks, I am exploring wines from the region in preparation for our trip there. We opened this Red Rhone Blend in the style of South Australian "GSM" - Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre from the Côtes du Roussillon appellation which lies in the far southwestern corner of France, between Spain and the Mediterranean. There is abundant sun which is ideal for grape varietals Carignan, Grenache and Cinsault, the region’s traditional varieties, and there are increasingly abundant plantings of Syrah and Mourvèdre.

Within Côtes du Roussillon, select terraced hillsides above the Agly, Verdouble and du Maury rivers, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, produce the more complex and barrel-aged Côtes du Roussillon-Villages red wines. The better wines are normally produced from vines on the slopes, not in the valley floors.

Appellation rules required blended red wines - the blend allowed is: Carignan (maximum 60%), Syrah, Mourvèdre (minimum 30% combined), Grenache noir, Lladoner. A minimum of three varieties are allowed in the blend.

Roussillon still regards itself as part of Catalonia across the border in Spain, and in wine styles. Whereas the Languedoc region in France is almost entirely dependent on vine-growing, the farmers in Roussillon's fertile valleys, overlooked by the Pyrenees, grow all sorts of fruits. The climate is almost Spanish, and is particularly suitable for growing cherries, plums, peaches, apricots and nectarines.

Domaine Lafage "Tessellae - Old Vines GSM" Côtes du Roussillon 2015

This is a blend of  50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre. It is from a popular producer, Jean-Marc Lafage who is known for producing wines with robust expressive fruit in the GSM varietals (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre). This is from Old Vines - 70-year-old vines and brought up all in concrete tank. This has great QPR - Quality Price Ratio of about $15 at Binny's locally around Chicagoland.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave this wine 93 points and wrote,"A ripe, expansive, full-bodied and undeniably sexy red that has beautiful notes of kirsch liqueur, blueberries, pepper and violets, it has ripe and present tannin, straight up fabulous purity and a great finish. This is another one of those wines where you just have to tell yourself you spent more than you actually did. The wine really is this good. (JD)  (4/2017)"

The folks at K&L Wines in Redwood City, one of my favorite wineshops anywhere, love this wine.

From Keith Mabry | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/30/2018 
Like all Lafage wines, there is no shortage of fruit in the GSM. The wine has the sensation of warm raspberry coulis drizzled over a berry compote. It almost sounds like a little much but Lafage excels at creating finesse where fruit lingers. Great acidity, plush velvety tannins and glycerol richness lead you to believe this is a much more expensive wine and gives you the balance you desire. The name Jean-Marc Lafage has become synonymous with cost to quality in our stores. Every wine is inflected with his joyously exuberant style. For wines that you can drink every day that show pure pleasure in the glass, you need look no further than Lafage's harmonious Grenache Syrah Mourvedre blend.

Thomas Smith, K&L Staff Member says, "Seriously, Jean-Marc Larfage is just killing it right now. In addition to being one of the most in-demand consulting winemakers in France, he continues to put out unbelievable values from his region of specialty: the Languedoc and Roussillon. Take for instance the 2015 Tessellae. Farmed from over 100 year-old-vines, this wine is utterly delicious, displaying flavors of raspberry coulis and bing cherries above a darker, medium bodied blackberry fruit. Hints of charcoal, smoke, and well-integrated spice contribute to a nuanced aroma. It is warm, upfront, fruity and an incredibly well-made wine that will work with plenty of different types of cuisines and is good for any night of the week. I would argue that at this moment, Lafage is producing the best value wines anywhere in the world. If you’ve loved the Kerbuccio, Bastide Miraflors, or Arqueta from Domaine Lafage, you should definitely pick up the Tessellae." 

K&L Staffer Alex Pross says, "This is my favorite Lafage release to date! The 2015 Tessellae Old Vines GSM has a hauntingly beautiful nose of red cherries, licorice, white pepper and garrigue. On the palate the wine is fresh and lively with great energy and drive. There is copious fruit notes as well as spice with a layered and complex palate. The wine shows excellent integration of its tannins, fruit and alcohol which gives this full-bodied wine a deceptively light on its feet feel.
Top Value! Drink from 2018 to 2022

This was dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, expressive forward black fruits with a bit of that Spanish effect coming through, a bit hot smokey, peppery creosote note accented by spice and hint of cassis. 

RM 89 points.