One of the fun and funny things about wine is that one man can make such a difference. Such is the case with Jean-Francois Nicq of the coop of Estezargues located in the historic city of Avignon, the epicenter of the Cotes du Rhone.
Estezargues was founded in 1965, a year after Jean-Francois was born. Twenty-four years later, he was hired to direct a cooperative of 10 different growers, all of whom had different ideas on how to grow grapes and make wine.
Somehow, this 24-year-old force of nature was able to coalesce competing ideologies and introduce the group of vintners to the "less is more" philosophy of grape growing and winemaking. This approach consisted of fewer chemicals, less manipulating and more governance of the vines in order to make the grapes show off the soil in which they were grown.
The results, as this selection exemplifies, were spectacular. Jean-Francois has gone on to anoint other areas, but his legacy is carried on by the current director, Denis Deschamps, with similar results.
Cotes du Rhone is really two separate areas which share a river. The north is rockier and dominated by Syrah. The south, from whence all Cotes du Rhone hails, is predominately Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvedre.
Our selection is a classic example, with loads of sweet/tart cherry, cranberry, earth and spice to spare. Great with roast lamb.