Southern Rhône's Burgundy Baseline
As a descriptor, "Burgundian" has its advocates and detractors. I've always felt comfortable using it for certain traits I find in wines. But, there's no place the word gets tossed around more freely (or appropriately) than when I'm in Beaune hanging out with friends and being introduced to new wines. During France's World Cup semifinal match televised outside at Bar du Square in Beaune in 2018, the greatest revelation of my month in France came to fruition.
Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 Domaine Gallety Côte du Vivarais Rouge.
A long time winemaker friend named Felix from Rully suggested Domaine Gallety as we ordered plates of charcuterie, cheese, and the most delicious tarte flambée of the trip. Gallety is a 50/50 Rhone blend of Grenache and Syrah from a high altitude setting within the northern section of the greater Southern Rhone Valley. I was surprised the proud Burgundian wanted to order a Rhone wine. He was surprised I had no idea who Domaine Gallety was. Kermit Lynch had been importing them into the US unbeknownst to me for a short time. As the bottle was brought to the picnic table, heads turned toward Felix with a showering of approval. This was the kind of Southern Rhone wine that belonged at a table in Beaune.
"Wines of Place" is the foundation for my selections, in that wines taste as they can only have been born of one place, not many. What does Gallety taste like? Well, everything you can expect from the specifics of this place. The higher altitude setting in this northern part of the region endows Grenache with a more fresh strawberry note vs. the more jammy side of things found further south. The Syrah brings a more savory side of the purple-hued fruits and adds in some black pepper, violets, and roasted meat elements. In the end, the flavor profile matches the setting as if you had conjured the experience in your mind before the first sip.
Gallety is situated in the Côtes du Vivarais, which was officially awarded A.O.C. status in 1999. As compared to the more recognized Côtes du Rhone appellation located across the river, Vivarais sits on the west and sees a cooler and much longer growing season. Without the afternoon exposure to direct sun and its heat, the wines here always maintain a lighter and more elegant, mineral-driven sensibility than their neighbors on the other bank of the river. With the 50/50 blend and the central location, Gallety's rouge fits a perfect middle ground between the styles of the southern (Grenache-dominant) and northern rhone valley (100% Syrah).
Alain Gallety and his son David-Alexandre are avid travelers, constantly visiting domaines throughout the county to learn and apply techniques to refine their work each year. Organic viticulture was adopted in the early '80s (rare for these parts), and top-loading gravity-fed tanks were installed to ensure freshness and integrity of fruit would be the cornerstone of the house style. The Gallety also uses Burgundian barrels for aging (another rarity here) as they believe the element of finesse they deliver is perfectly suited to this rocky limestone and clay terroir. Here, the very most rocky parcels have been selected for plantings—so rocky that a draft horse can only work them.