2007 Domaine Paul Autard Cotes-du-Rhone

Year: 2007
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 88
Red Wine
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"Juicy, with raspberry and currant fruit laced with aged tobacco and dark spice notes. This has a nice open-knit finish. Drink now. 5,000 cases made." (WS)

Winery Notes:
80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre

The 2007 Cotes du Rhone was made under conditions of “ideal serenity for the harvesters and the vigneron,” reflects Jean-Paul Autard. While the September weather was perfect, the character of the growing season and the decisions Autard made are equally important factors in explaining the excellence of the 2007 Cotes du Rhone. It is a deeply colored and very aromatic wine with plush, ripe black fruits and notes of spice – Autard’s fifth brilliant vintage in a row!

Flowering began at the start of May, and the rest of May and June were relatively rainy, allowing the vines to develop without the stress of drought. From late June through September, however, the climate was extremely dry, with hot (but not scorching) days and cool nights. The latter provided relief for the vines, which were able to re-hydrate. The summer of 2007 was also exceptionally windy, keeping the fruit in naturally healthy condition as the grape bunches stayed well ventilated. In sum, at harvest time the crop was naturally in a perfect state of health.

Autard did not need to green harvest in 2007 because his vines average 50 years of age (they are between 40-94 years old), and the limited use of only organic fertilizer, naturally ensured low yields and concentrated, balanced fruit. Harvest for the Cotes du Rhone began on September 5th under sunny skies and lasted ten days. The health of the fruit was perfect throughout the harvest period. The grapes were all handpicked and transported to the winery in small boxes so as not to damage the fruit. They were then de-stemmed and lightly crushed to begin the fermentation process by releasing juice. The maceration and fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks over 25 days in Autard’s new winery. The tanks are equipped with a pneumatic mechanism to carry out pigeage (or punching down of the cap of solids) to ensure optimal and gentle extraction of color and flavor without any harsh elements. In addition, two pumping over operations (remontages) were carried out daily for 10 days, to enhance the extraction and to oxygenate the wine to attain a plush texture. Each of the varieties was vinified separately and assembled in March. The 2007 Cotes du Rhone was aged in stainless steel tanks until bottling in late June 2008.