‘This is going to be a great, great bottle of Côte Rôtie in the fullness of time, and fans of Marius Gentaz would do well to tuck a box of this wine away in their cellars for future gratification.’
John Gilman, View from the Cellar
The name Barge is to Côte Rôtie what Rousseau or d’Angerville is to Burgundy. Namely, a pioneer of domaine-bottling and prophet of a new era which inaugurates, indeed makes possible, the small, independent domaines without whom our wine lives would be far less colorful.
In Burgundy, it was a small coterie of producers who stepped out on their own. In Côte Rôtie, it was one domaine - one man - that first peeked out from the safety of the nest. This man was Jules Barge, who in 1929 decided to turn his own fruit into his own wine. The adventure continues today with such a closeness to Jules' original spirit and vision that describing the domaine as 'traditional' comes up short. Barge is the arch-traditionalist.
Gilles Barge, grandson of Jules, took over the family domaine in 1994, though he had worked with his father Pierre for many years before taking the reigns. Soon after his ascension, he made the decision to break with the tradition of a single, blended Côte Rôtie to produce separate bottlings from the appellation’s two senior sites, the Côte Brune and Côte Blonde. The domaine’s oldest vines, dating to the early ‘50s, are in the Côte Brune, and despite the excellence of both wines, it is this, with its classic, structured personality that has emerged as the domaine’s flag-bearer. Vinification mirrors the methods of the old days. The wines are always whole-cluster fermented, spend 30 months in demi-muids, and are neither fined nor filtered.
Production for the Côte Brune amounts to less than 400 cases on average. The 2013 rendition flaunts the unusually pretty, indeed delicate side of the appellation with its precise nose of peppery purple fruit and effusively floral suggestions. There is lift but, too, a certain elegant restraint, and ultra-expressive whole-cluster notes emerge increasingly with time. The palate follows the nose and then broadens, adding in classic 2013 savory notes of grilled herbs, wet earth, and black olives. Over 2 hours, the fruit remains alert and clear.
This 2013 sums to an exceptionally compelling rendition of a benchmark wine, among the greatest of its appellation, and one whose price point belies both its genuine singularity and multi-decade longevity.