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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

La Guintrandy‏, Visan - Rhône

The wines of La Guintrandy in Visan, Rhône; part of Patrimoine des Terroirs
Olivier Cuilleras worked as a winemaker in Condrieu before taking over his parents' estate just outside Visan in the southern Rhône.
They had farmed around 30 hectares of vines mostly on the hillsides and a plateau surrounding their farmhouse, but sold all their grapes to the local co-op.
With his winemaking experience, Olivier decided to handle some of the production himself and bottle his own wines.
His wines are predominantly Grenache-based, typical for the region, but he also produces a white blend of Viognier and Grenache Gris as well as a rosé. The whites and rosé are fermented in stainless steel, the reds in concrete tanks.
We met him one afternoon whilst staying in the region and, with some friends and a Belgian couple who also turned up, tasted our way through his wines.
Visan is a southern town with a ruined hilltop castle and a view of the rocky alpine foothills. In late summer, it is a dry and dusty, sleepy sort of place.
That dryness and some strong breezes keep the vineyards naturally free of pests and allows the grapes to sit on the vines until late September for full maturity.
As a result, the wines are big and substantial - Olivier's top wine, Louise-Amélie is around 15.8% alcohol, yet feels balanced with ripe fruit and spiciness.
It is only just ready for drinking now and can be aged for several more years.
2010 was one of a pair of back-to-back good years in the Rhône and it was no surprise that the flagship wine from the good year showed best.
A couple of the lesser wines from more difficult recent years felt a touch over-extracted - a cooler year demands a gentler hand in the cellar with a lighter wine as a result.
I was impressed by two more wines - Le Deves, which is the name of the local region and his Cairanne which in 2012 is a Cotes du Rhône Village but from 2014 is set to be an AOC Cairanne if all goes to plan.
The wines are best matched with spiced, strongly-flavoured red meats. Once fully mature, the Louise-Amélie is a perfect match for game.
La Guintrandy's wines are available at the cellar door in Visan (signposted from the centre of Visan) and internationally via Patrimoine des Terroirs.
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