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Domaine Richaud "Terre d'Aigles" Côtes du Rhône '20
Cairanne is one of the best terroirs in the vast Côtes du Rhône-Villages appellation, situated atop a range of low hills with perfect exposure. Richaud comes from a vine-growing family who'd historically sold grapes to the local cooperative, so it came as a shock when Marcel, only 17 at the time, told his father he wanted to become a vigneron indépendant. To his senior, this was incomprehensible and felt very risky: nothing to gain, more work, and less pay. Undeterred, Marcel started with 14 hectares of his aunt's vines, producing his first vintage at 19 years old in a dilapidated cellar with no roof. He quickly made a name for himself in the nascent Parisian natural wine scene of the early 1990s and eventually began incorporating his father’s cooperative vines into his production. Today, Marcel is retired and the estate is run by his children Thomas, Claire, and Edith.
The estate has grown to a sizable 80 hectares over the years, a combination of Marcel progressively recouping family vineyards from the cooperative and purchasing land. Fewer Grenache vines are planted than at most estates in the area, just 25% of what is grown, and the same amount of Syrah and Mourvèdre. The remainder of the estate consists of 10% Cinsault and 15% various local varieties. This mix is one of the reasons why Richaud’s wines, despite being elevated in alcohol, have such great balance and finesse. The focus is on harvesting a healthy and ripe crop. In 2000, a cellar was built of yellow sandstone blocks (from the Pont du Gard quarry), which allowed for casks and barriques to be incorporated into the winemaking. Vinifications occur with native yeasts and without any additions of sulfur. The wines are never fined or filtered, and only a small amount of sulfur is added at bottling.
“Terre d’Aigles” is made of about 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Carignan, from 60-year-old vines along the Aigues river, producing the estate’s fruitiest wines. After harvest, the grapes are destemmed, except for the Carignan, which is vinified whole cluster. Each variety is vinified separately in concrete vats. Macerations last 8–10 days, and a single remontage is performed each day during fermentation.
Red-fruited, bold, and juicy, with notes of strawberry, plum, and dried herbs, “Terre d’Aigles” pairs well with dishes ranging from braised, roasted, or grilled meats to pizza. (Background info from the importer Louis/Dressner)
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