by Chris Santini
It’s been said that Les Pallières is more of an “ambiance” than a microclimate. To get there, it’s a bit of a drive from Gigondas village center, heading north, away from the main road, the summer crowds, and the noise. The road follows the Trignon River around some bends and suddenly climbs, up past a few old farmhouses at the base of the hill, and then into that ambiance many have remarked upon at first visit. There’s a calmness in the hills, save the occasional passing of the herd of goats who roam the property, with their shepherdess guiding them through. The estate is vast, much more ground given to forests of pine, oak, and maquis than to vine. The vineyards only begin to appear mid-slope, spread out here and there, never in a single massive block, and always planted horizontally, with each row forming a bit of a notch, creating what looks like a giant stairway to heaven. These steep parcels compose the Racines cuvée. Directly in the heart of those parcels lie the old buildings of Les Pallières, including a house, the winery, a chapel, and some older structures used for various endeavors over the course of centuries, from wine to olive oil to silk-worm rearing. Given the distance of the property from town, this cluster of buildings was long a semi-autonomous, self-sufficient hamlet, a hustle of activity and artisans under the watchful eye of the Roux family, hands-on proprietors who weathered wars and revolutions, prosperity and hard times, and managed to keep things going through countless generations, until they had no more heirs of their own to hand down to.
While today the grounds are quiet and calm, you can feel the history and energy of all those who lived, prayed, and toiled here. Continuing up the hill, far above the old buildings, are the parcels of the Terrasse du Diable cuvée—some on the top slope and some on the plateau of the hill, completely surrounded by the Mediterranean forest. As of this writing, the 2023 harvest has been safely brought into the winery. It marks a special milestone, as it’s the twenty-fifth vintage that the Brunier / Lynch team has harvested, after taking over from the Roux family to perpetuate the celebrated wines and the ambiance of Les Pallières.
Fresh and airy on the nose, with hints of tobacco and licorice. The palate is dense and ripe, yet wonderfully smooth and elegant. Racines seems to tap into the history of Les Pallières, the prestige and the high-toned elegance.
The hint of prunes and smoke and the rustic, chalky tannins here put the more pastoral feel of the Pallières ambiance on display. Violets and dark berries dominate the palate, with a pleasant wild side lurking below the surface.