This wine is not at all small. The 2007 Southern Rhone vintage was a big one across the board and this wine is no exception. The exceptional aspect of this wine is the value to the consumer at this price point. For people with a taste for a truly big wine at an affordable price (compared to other Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines which commonly sell for more than $50), this Domaine de la Solitude (at approximately $45) will not disappoint. As a note about Domaine de la Solitude – while much has been made of the overall 2007 vintages for Châteauneuf wines, I have tasted the less expensive Cotes du Rhone wines from this maker and feel comfortable purchasing them as an everyday wine for myself no matter the reports on the overall vintages – sometimes the vineyard and winemaker are more important than the vineyard (at least to me!). The Lancon family has been in the Southern Rhone for over 700 years, with the earliest relations having moved to Avignon in 1264 to serve the Pope. The wine label shows family history elements including three bees (said to be a medieval family weapon), the hats of two bishops and a pope, and a medal, said to be from service to Napoleon at Waterloo. Current generations of the Lancon family, Jean and Michel Lancon carry on the wine making traditions with great care, and Michel’s son Florent Lancon is taking some responsibility as well.
This wine, like many Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, is dark purple and nearly opaque, indicating a very dense wine to come. The blend of this vintage is reported to be 55% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre, a typical Southern Rhone blend. If not decanted and allowed to breathe a while, there is alcohol on the nose, mixed with more pleasant berry and herb notes. After some breathing however, the wine opens up – flavors are dense and virtually explode on the palate with broad layers of spicy fig, plum and raspberry, even hints of herby, savory meat. The mouth feel is intense yet very smooth, savory and luscious with a finish that stays a long time. It is always a treat to find a wine of this much power but with finesse as well – if you can find it, I am sure you will enjoy it.