Un aide-mémoire

Last year I mentioned a vinyard in the south of France called Chateau Routas. This year I finally visited it and purchased some of its wine.

I’m not an expert oenophile, but Sudsy Dame and I both agreed that the 1998 Agrippa was delicious and we purchased the last five bottles of it, along with a case of the 2002 Rouvière rosé and some of the red Infernet.

I first read about Chateau Routas in an article written in 1999 by Anthony Dias Blue (see The Wines of Sunny France) in which he wrote:

Near the tiny hamlet of Châteauvert, about an hour east of Aix-en-Provence, proprietor Philippe Bieler and his American winemaker, Bob Lindquist, are making news at Château Routas with a series of wines named after historic French figures. “The vineyards here are old and interesting,” said the affable Lindquist, who is also the proprietor of Qupé Winery in Santa Barbara, California, “but they haven’t been taken seriously for centuries. For years there has been very little attention paid to the quality of wines here.”

Bieler, a passionate cook, bought the château for its “proximity to epicurean raw materials” — like the truffles he often adds to his guests’ scrambled eggs — but the business of wine is foremost at this property. The Routas Cyrano (named for the big-nosed poet and swashbuckler Cyrano de Bergerac) is a fleshy, ripe Syrah, while Pyramus (named for a botanist ancestor of Bieler’s) is a white blend with deeply extracted flavors and a lush finish. The official Coteaux Varois appellation, which includes most of the Routas wines, was created only in 1993 — a sign that greater things are to come from this area. “I think that Grenache and Syrah have enormous commercial potential with American consumers,” said Lindquist.

Chateau Routas does seem to be making a name for itself, albeit mostly in the US. The wine correspondent for the Financial Times, Jancis Robinson, mentioned it recently (see The rehabilitation of rosé), despite the fact that the wine is currently unavailable in the UK. At the domaine we were told that a new UK distributor is imminent, so perhaps we won’t have to travel quite so far when the time comes to replenish our cellar (well, wine rack actually).