Robert Parker 98
Gauby’s 2007 Cotes du Roussillon Villages Muntada ” from 100 year-old, pre-phylloxera Carignan vines and 60-80 year old Grenache, plus a bit of Syrah, and tasted assembled from barrel ” is almost dizzying in its aromatic diversity and strength. Shrubby herbs, licorice, tar, cedar, game, daffodil and marigold floral notes lead into a palate that improbably combines sheer viscosity and riveting intensity with invigorating brightness of fresh fruit and saline, crystalline, shimmering minerality. From its deep carnal, stony depth, through its multitude of herbs and berries, to the distillate-like intensity of its floral, salt-tinged top notes, this profound and exuberant wine is brilliantly scored for full orchestra and resonates long after swallowing. This opus ” whose mysterious, savage beauty and luminosity brought to mind La Tache ” will not be bottled until summer, but is sure to go down as one of Gauby’s greatest, and be worth following for at least the better part of two decades. Gerard Gauby (increasingly assisted by his son Lionel) continues ” restlessly, experimentally, but with obvious focus ” to pursue his rigorous biodynamic viticultural regimen as well as his stylistic ideals of elegance, refinement, distinctive minerality, and moderate alcohol, none of which ” he demonstrates ” are incompatible with ripe flavors and sheer density. (One stunningly floral and fruit-filled lot of 2008 Grenache destined for Muntada was harvested at a record-low 13.3% alcohol.) The key quality factor in stony, sun-drenched Roussillon, Gauby opines, is density of root structure sufficient to support steady vine metabolism, because shut-down or stop-start maturation under stress is what ultimately causes tannins to harden and pH and sugars to rise independently of maturation. Reds here from the last five vintages are more exciting then ever, if stylistically distinct from their more obviously robust and alcoholically-rich predecessors. Gauby has been the regional leader in white wines as well, which seem especially to benefit from the high-elevation and mixture of schistic and chalky soils around the town of Calc. A recently-acquired parcel of Grenache Gris vines planted in 1947 that he is â€œrestoringâ€ represents, says Gauby, the last such acreage available in his neighborhood. Propagation of cuttings will take a long time to mature to the point where they bear outstanding fruit, and he has enough old vines to keep him entirely busy and supplied. Apropos white grapes and young vines, Gauby is inter-planting Malvoisie with some of his red vines to achieve an effect similar to that conferred by the occasional blanc and gris vines that are a feature of Roussillon’s oldest remaining stands of Carignan and Grenache. Incidentally, there is an utterly alluring Gauby 2004 vendange tardive still in barrel, subtly oxidizing. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, PA; tel. (610) 486-0800.