Francois-Xavier Nicolas, 'Entre Restanques et Garrigues' Cairanne, France 2020
A bright and refreshing, Grenache-driven blend from two spots within the Cairanne appellation - Les Restanques and Les Garrigues. Unoaked, the focus here is on purity of fruit (strawberry, cherry), balance and freshness.
Francois-Xavier is one of a new generation of 'garage' négocients - winemakers who seek out the best terroirs and producers in order to create their own small batches of very high quality wine. A master blender and outstanding winemaker, with extensive knowledge of the northern and southern Rhône, his small line up of wines is terrifically good and exceptionally good value.
Cairanne is a small appellation just to the north of Avignon. It was awarded its own 'Cru' status in 2016, making it one of 17 such villages in the Rhône Valley (two other examples are Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas). Its rocky, sun-drenched, garrigue-covered hillsides produce almost entirely red wines. They are known for their generous, ripe fruit, freshness and elegance.
Offered: April 2023.
Drinking window: The wine is absolutely delicious now - silky smooth and highly more-ish - so I would advise drinking within the next year or so. If you prefer your Côtes du Rhône more savoury and mature though, this does have the legs to last up to ten years.
Food matching: A winning match for roasts, stews and hard cheeses.