2022 ChevernyDomaine du Salvard
France | Loire
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by Jane Augustine
In the southern Rhône chapter of Adventures on the Wine Route, Kermit reminds readers that “the system of appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) is not a rating, not a judgment of the wine in bottle, but a definition of the terrain, the soil, the grape varieties . . . the raw materials!” Serge Férigoule of Le Sang des Cailloux in Vacqueyras echoed this sentiment, once telling me that certain people questioned the price of his artisanal wines in comparison to those of more prestigious appellations like Châteauneuf-du-Pape. “Je m’en fiche!” he said, unfazed. He doesn’t let appellation hierarchies dictate the quality of his wine or how the “raw materials” present in the glass. I often think about this—not only the fortitude required to be a great vigneron, but also how prime vineyard sites can be anywhere, and it’s up to the grower to let them shine.
At Les Pallières, both pillars of enviable vineyards and fearless growers have been in place ever since Kermit and the Bruniers partnered on the property back in 1998. The domaine, which sits atop a high-elevation, north-facing terroir, benefits from cool nights that help preserve freshness despite the relentless Provençal sun. Their Racines cuvée is made from craggy old vines rooted in clay-dominant soil, giving us wines with a silky, lifted mouthfeel and remarkable saline finish. Terrasse du Diable combines several lieux-dits from limestone-rich soils, resulting in a heartier, more angular Gigondas with rustic flair. For now, in their youth, both cuvées are robust, joyfully vibrant, and typical of the 2020 vintage. But over time, the textbook notes of young Gigondas—black cherry and réglisse—will evolve; the fruit will turn plummy, the textures will soften, and layers of warming, woodsy spice will add in complexity.
Les Pallières may very well be host to some of the most impressive terroirs of anywhere in the southern Rhône, but the wines also tell the story of the determined minds and ambitious visionaries behind them.
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