Chateau d’Estoublon is the local competitor to Domaine de Trevallon; a producer long-time readers will know I rather like. d’Estoublon play it by the rules and only have a small proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon, so they are allowed the AOC on the label that Trevallon are not. The predominant grapes of this are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre with Cab in fourth place.
I love the label and, even though I normally think such things are a bit vain, the super-weighty bottle does look and feel quite cool. They do a prestige cuvée which, based on the slightly eccentric personality of this construction, must be totally hatstand. They also bottle single-varietals of the grapes they grow (which are not allowed the the AOC, natch). I have a 14.5% booze-quotient Mourvedre lurking in my wine fridge that I’ve been too scared to open yet. We’ll see about that when I’m feeling more at equilibrium. This is odd enough to keep me going for the time being.
Les Baux de Provence 2008, Chateau d’Estoublon
This nose is somewhere between ‘fruitcake’ and ‘bouquet garni’ – the mind boggles… To expand, there is plummy, raisiny, richly ripe fruit aplenty as well as a strong herbal character which is far more savoury than the fruit – thyme, chives and bay leaves, I’d hazard. One thing that is very obvious on the nose is a strong earth/stone aroma, even though it is a reasonably clean nose with no real stinkiness. I’m pleased they haven’t gone down the road of excessive booziness, but this is an odd, although not displeasing, nose all in all. Savoury herbal fruitcake with a soil filling… hmmmmm… are you won over by that description? I just about am. Let’s see how wacked out the palate is. Cripes, now that is odd. The tannins seem soft and polished on the entry and then express real severity the more you swirl. The contrast between those two states of expression seems strange to me. And again it’s a savoury fruitcake on the palate also. Imagine your dear old granny had a brilliant Christmas cake recipe that she always made every year in plenty of time for Christmas so the flavours had time to integrate and mature. Only this year, such is the progression of her aged confusion, she replaced all the sugar in the recipe with the contents of her tin of desiccated mixed herbs. That doesn’t sound particularly toothsome, but it does make for a complex construction which this wine certainly is. It’s better than your addled granny’s herb cake, unless possibly she purchased her herbs in Amsterdam, and I think it’ll go well with beef stew tonight. However, the nutcase nature of the flavour combinations in this wine would not really make me enjoy it without powerful food rich in unbound proteins. If I had this on its own I’d just keep ejaculating “Good god!”, “Hell’s bells!” and “Errrr… what? Eh?” far too frequently to put the effort in required to get pleasure out of this wine. Good-ish, possibly, slightly, but I’ll take the more expensive Trevallon and penury in a gnat’s crochet.