"It's stunningly good, and while already approachable and impossible to resist today, it's capable of evolving for a solid decade," says Jeb Dunnuck of Grand Bois' gorgeous 2020 Cuvee Maximilien. The village of Cairanne is north of Chateauneuf du Pape and just east of Gigondas and Vacqueyras, and Grands Bois is one the superstar producers of this village, which gained AOC status in 2016.
I love all of the estate's red wine cuvees, but I've always had a preference for their Cuvee Max, a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Mourvedre, and 15% Syrah from 50-75 year-old, organically-farmed vineyards. I'd happily put this in a blind tasting against much more expensive Chateauneufs and Gigondas', and I know it would hold its own. We just got our 10 case allocation of this 94 pointer, and with deal pricing in place, it won't last long.
2020 Domaine les Grands Bois Cairanne 'Cuvee Maximilien'
94 points Jeb Dunnuck, 94 points Yours Truly
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I really like Jeb Dunnuck's Rhone coverage, and I think he nailed the review for this one. His notes were pretty much identical to mine. "A beautiful wine from this terrific estate in Cairanne, the 2020 Cairanne Maximilien is 50% Grenache, 35% Mourvèdre, and the rest Syrah, brought up all in concrete. It shows the more elegant style of the vintage yet still brings beautiful depth of fruit and concentration." Exactly, despite being big and bold, there is an elegance and silky flow to this delicious red wine.
You can tell he was seriously impressed by this wine because he kept going. I understand why! "Giving up notes of black raspberries, blackberries, herbs de Provence, ground pepper, and flowers, it's medium to full-bodied, has remarkable purity, silky tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It's stunningly good, and while already approachable and impossible to resist today, it's capable of evolving for a solid decade." If that doesn't sound good to you, world-class Southern Rhones are not your thing :)
As I said in the opening, I’ve long adored the wines of Domaine Les Grands Bois, one of the finest estates in the Southern Rhone. Marc Besnardeau is originally from Paris, and for several years, he worked as a sommelier at one of the top restaurants in Paris. Then love struck when he met Mireille Farjon, whose family owned pristine, old, and low-yielding vineyards in the Southern Rhone. The two married, and Marc made the radical shift from city slicker to farmer and vigneron. The rest is history....
His terrific credentials as a sommelier and his fine palate set him up to make great wines of his own. Marc always loved wines produced from old vines -- as vines age, yields go down, and intensity and concentration go up. In addition, these more deeply-rooted vines provide a greater expression of terroir (sense of place). You can honestly see, smell, and taste Marc's personality (a part of terroir) in each of his wines. They are all quite dark, ripe, robust, and pleasure-bent.
I’m gonna’ wrap it up as there’s not much more to say here. This is a world-class Southern Rhone at a ridiculously low price, and I bought every bottle available to me. This is the kind of wine I like to sip slowly and follow it as it opens up to reveal new and enthralling layers of nuance. It’s also mighty nice served alongside any sort of lamb preparation. Once you buy it, it’s totally your call. Enjoy!
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