Jeb Dunnuck: “Bottled just two weeks ago, the 2017 Côtes du Rhône Les Sables d’Arène is another incredible winner from this estate, which seems incapable of putting a foot wrong. Ripe red and black fruits, spice, and tons of garrigue dominate this ripe, sexy, pleasure-bent effort that’s ideal for drinking anytime over the coming 4-5 years. It’s certainly worth a case purchase.” 92/100 pts
Wine Spectator: “2017 was a difficult vintage in terms of managing the vineyards, but not in terms of quality. The season started with severe coulure (shatter) resulting in dramatically lowered yields. A spate of hail hit the area, further reducing the crop in some spots. Then, from May 11 through Nov. 11, not a drop of rain fell. If any wine region in the world were equipped to handle real dry farming to that extent, it would be the old vines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape (and perhaps Australia’s Barossa Valley). Producing very small berries, combined with a reduced crop, the vines avoided any maturity blockage during the drought. There wasn’t much juice, but what there was was very, very good. The wines are tannic—skin-to-juice ratio has an effect—but they are ripe and focused.
‘We had impeccable conditions during the season and harvest’, says Marie. ‘But very, very little juice.’
‘Yields were just [1.1 tons per acre],’ says François. ‘But the vine was never stressed because the crop load was so low. The leaves never turned yellow. In that regard, it was easier than ’16, for the vines …. Not for us!’
I generally prefer to let my reviews on wines stand as my opinion on the efforts of a winemaker and/or owner. In this case though, I offer this addendum, as I have been visiting with the Girauds for over a decade now: These are special wines, emblematic of the recent generational shift in Châteuneuf-du-Pape. They are seductive wines that are also meant to age, and offer a beautiful expression of their terroir. And they are made by special people.
The 2017 Domaine Giraud Côtes du Rhône shows the vintage’s style—tightly focused, with currant, plum and raspberry fruit notes carried by a vivid streak of licorice and backed by a bit more grip than you might expect from a Côtes du Rhône.”