Domaine Montirius’s 2006s

Find these wines

No, I have not forgotten 2006 Rhône, I promise, and will be publishing our collected tasting notes on them just as soon as we have reported in full on last week’s immersion in 2007 bordeaux. 

Domaine Montirius, a large, biodynamic domaine in the garrigue-covered hills of the south of the Vacqueyras appellation, seems to be going from strength to strength. Their serious 2006s, as yet available only as futures, blow many a Châteauneuf off the table (and, you may remember, I was in general a big fan of Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006s). The Montirius wines are sold at prices sure to make many a 2007 bordeaux offer look like a bad joke.
According to one of their UK importers O W Loeb, the 2006s are showing better en primeur than in previous years because they have been treated to a little micro-oxygenation to make them a bit less impenetrable in youth. Christine and Eric Saurel eschew oak, preferring to present the intensity of their Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre vines grown without any additions in the dry climate of the southern Rhône without any extra layers of flavour. The wine is kept instead in cement and occasionally stainless steel. Tasting four of their 2006 offerings, I could quite see why they feel the grapes themselves need no make-up. The wines show such extraordinary intensity. My tasting notes are littered with phrases such as “there’s SO much here”, “real interest” and “amazingly, not heavy” (this after I had looked at the alcohol levels).
None of these wines is light. The southern Rhône doesn’t do light and even if the 2006s there are less tannic than the 2005s, they are still beefy. These are wines to drink to keep warm (shame we can’t get our hands on them to drink tonight in London). But I think they will offer wonderful drinking over the first and possibly second half of the next decade, so you could happily lay in a dozen bottles without worrying how on earth you’ll get through them.
The simplest Montirius 2006 I have tasted is their basic Vacqueyras Dom Montirius, Garrigues 2006 Vacqueyras (14%), which I gave 16 points out of 20, a pretty good score considering it is only £89 a dozen in bond from O W Loeb. Very rich and spicy. Much more serious is their single-vineyard bottling Dom Montirius, Le Clos 2006 Vacqueyras (14%), which earned a whole point more from me (not that I want to overplay the role of scores, of course). This one, while also tasting super-sweet in terms of ripeness of fruit, somehow seemed like something out of a jewellery display, so ornate and polished is it. You can pick this up for £90 a dozen in bond from Berry Bros or £102 from O W Loeb. Not a bad price for a wine grown on a clay (pictured above) which, the Saurels claim, has been shown by analysis to be the same as at Ch Pétrus.  
If this top Vacqueyras is still a little dry in terms of tannins, you could almost drink their basic Gigondas, Dom Montirius, Terres des Aînés 2006 Gigondas (15% and 17 points), straight away, so wonderfully, silkily rich is it. This is Grenache with 20% Mourvèdre – £117 from O W Loeb and £108 from Berry Bros. Their top bottling, Dom Montirius, Confidentiel 2006 Gigondas (14.5%), comes from their finest Gigondas vines and has the most extraordinary concentration of black fruit flavours yet great balance, very sleek and polished, though you pay for its rarity value: £96 for six bottled in bond from O W Loeb, who have finally been convinced it is not overpriced.
Montirius’s 2006 Côtes du Rhône, which I have not tasted, is easy to find in the US already, I see. If I lived there, I would be tempted to put in my order for the superior bottlings already.