2017 Domaine Oratoire St Martin Cairanne Les Douyes
“The finest leaders lead by example, and that is exactly what Frédéric and François Alary of Domaine de L’Oratoire Saint-Martin have done for decades. Their personal modesty belies their unparalleled talent in crafting organically raised wines that sing of southern landscapes and summer-ripe flavors, bottles that are not only best in their class but also set an example for elegant, site-specific reds the world over.
“The family’s roots run deep in the region, with the brothers representing the family’s tenth generation of winemakers in Cairanne. In terms of natural winemaking, the Alary family has always been ahead of the curve. They adopted organic agriculture long before it was fashionable; they pioneered a return to cement tanks for vinification when everyone else was spending absurd amounts on the latest technology. The region’s finest talents today all had their start in this family’s cellars.
“The best wines of Cairanne are marked above all by an effortless finesse in both perfume and flavor. While other lower-land southern Rhônes struggle with heat and higher alcohol, Cairanne’s top wines are poised and pure, hailing from the village’s chalky hills. This natural cooler character is preserved faithfully at L’Oratoire Saint-Martin; here the soul of the wine comes directly from the soil and the vine.” – North Berkeley Imports
“95 – 97 points.
“Still in foudre at the time of my visit, the 2017 Cairanne les Douyes was expected to be in cask for at least 18 months. A 60-40 blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre from the estate’s oldest vines, and produced from minuscule yields of just 15 hectoliters per hectare, it’s full-bodied and creamy-textured, with intense flavors of licorice, black cherries and plum. It’s out-of-this-world good and easily one of the best Cairannes I’ve ever tasted, with at least 15 years of ageability.
“In 2018, the crop at this historic domaine was down approximately 70%, according to Frédéric Alary. From Cairanne, there will only be a single white and single red bottled. Thankfully, what I tasted is reassuringly good, and the terrific 2016s and 2017s are still on the market. If you’re in the market for great, traditional Southern Rhône wines that won’t break the bank (and who isn’t?), producers like this deserve your support. Alary opened two decade-old bottles to illustrate how well the wines from this benchmark estate age, with remarkably consistent results.” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate