This comes from a small and lesser-known Côtes du Rhône village in the Southern Rhône region, Roaix, and unusually for the Rhône is produced 100% from Syrah or Shiraz. The producer is one of my favourites of the region, Gilles Ferran of Domaine des Escaravailles - Escaravailles is the name for beetles in the local dialect, Occitan, hence the beetle on the label and on the cork of this bottle; it is also said to be a nickname for black-robed monks that used to tend the vineyards in days gone by.
This small winery, in the Ferran family since 1953, is situated high up in the Rasteau region; its Syrah vines (a clone of Northern Rhône Syrah called Serein) are c. 40 years old.
This wine is really special because it is only produced in exceptional years and even then is only available in small quantities. The ageing vines and pebbly limestone soils help add to the intensity and complexity of flavours - black fruits, violet, white pepper and spices. It is aged for 9 months in 2 year old oak barrels - brand new barrels might impart too much oak into the wine so the effect is more subtle with older barrels. And yet desite the structure and intensity of this wine it is super smooth. Delicious!
"Small production of Syrah aged in oak barrels for a powerful, structured and smooth wine... Superb deep red colour with glints of China ink. The nose is elegant with aromas of cherry eau de vie, eucalyptus and old armagnac. The palate is full-bodied and round. Aromas of cherry jam with notes of licorice and white pepper."
91 Points Robert Parker Mar 2016
"From the appellation of Roaix, which is located just to the northeast of Cairanne, the 2014 Les Hautes des Granges Roaix Côtes du Rhône Villages is 100% Syrah from limestone soils. Completely destemmed and aged nine months in barrel, it has terrific notes of smoked meats, pepper, charcuterie and black raspberries in a medium-bodied, forward, charming profile. I love its purity of fruit, but given its soft, forward style, I’d lean towards drinking bottles over the coming 4-6 years.
Winemaker Gilles Ferran farms over 60 hectare of vines, most located in Rasteau. His 2014s show the more forward and mid-weight style of the vintage, yet has terrific purity of fruit and more depth, texture and charm than most."