Domaine de Cristia, 3 Generations of Rhone Raging
Apr 30, 2019
Both men inherited smaller properties from their fathers that they built into successful domaines and upon passing both left things in secure hands. But for sure a changing of the guard has come to pass; more so at Lazaret than Cristia for one simple reason – Alain Grangeon passed Cristia’s torch to his uber talented son Baptise almost a decade ago. There was no need for Alain to wait.
At 25 Baptise was ready. By 30 he was unstoppable. Now at 40 he’s at the top of his game and widely acknowledged for his ability to coax beautifully crafted wines with generous flavors from tricky Grenache grapes that in less capable hands often are prone to destabilization based on excessive levels of alcohol and volatile acidity.
Irrepressible talent like Baptiste Grageon’s is huge, but the other part of Cristia’s success story is the Domaine’s tony holdings, all in Châteauneuf du Pape’s most coveted commune, Courthezon, a cooler plateau above the galet belt where older soils feature thicker alluvial deposits that produce superior grapes. Some of the best wines from Châteauneuf du Pape hail from this storied site. All four of Cristia’s “lieu-dits” (superior sites) in Courthezon are populated exclusively with older vines ranging from 50 to 100 years old, and every inch of each site is certified organic by Ecocert.
Baptiste treats these special grapes with deliberate care. A complete destemming precedes fermentation in concrete vats at a relatively high temperature accompanied by frequent pump-overs to extract richer flavors and polish any harsh tannins. Cristia’s basic Châteauneuf du Pape is a blend of 80% Grenache, aged in concrete for 18 months along with 15% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre, both aged in two and three year old barrels. It’s a graceful wine with gobs of silky, smooth fruit that you can enjoy the day you buy it.
Cristia Vieilles Vignes (old vines) is Baptiste’s ultimate Grenache expression based on very low yielding 80 year old vines grown in sandy soils under near drought conditions. Cuvées like this showcase the appellation’s most dynamic possibilities while offering wines of character and substance for serious wine collector cellars.
Cristia’s Cuvée Renaissance is the micro-cuvée the Domaine makes from its most precious holding, a 1.5 hectare plot in the lieu-dit “Cristia” where 100 year old Grenache vines are co-planted with 50 year old Syrah plants in random patterns. Like the vineyard, the wine is layered and concentrated.
To add to the range, Baptiste, like many smart producers in Châteauneuf du Pape, owns vineyard land and produces wine in neighboring Côtes du Rhône, in this case from 40 year old certified organic vines. He brings the same attention to detail to His Côtes du Rhône wines as he does to his Châteauneufs. Consequently Cristia Cotes du Rhône is a harmonious wine that literally caresses the palate with waves of fresh fruit interspersed with subtle notes of herb and garrigue (the local flora).
Domaine Cristia is one of the Rhône Valley’s most important small estates. This is no longer a secret but somehow, despite three generations of history, the best is yet to come. I’m pretty sure about that. Don’t miss out!
DOMAINE DE CRISTIA WINES
“This delivers a lush, enticing blast of cassis and raspberry and boysenberry preserve flavors, carried by a silky structure that lets the fruit play out at length, giving adequate time for black tea, singed apple wood, dried anise and fruitcake notes to fill in throughout. Dreamy. Grenache. Best from 2020 through 2040.” 97pts Wine Spectator; 95pts Vinous; 93pts Wine Advocate
“This has an intense core of crushed plum, raspberry and boysenberry fruit flavors, draped with melted licorice notes and backed by a wave of warm fruitcake. Hedonistic for sure, but accents of anise, violet and singed apple wood dart around, adding extra facets of intrigue to hold your attention. Grenache and Mourvèdre. Best from 2020 through 2040.” 96pts Wine Spectator; 93pts Wine Advocate
This very complete red has a pleasing bright berry fruit tone and a smooth supple palate presence. Delicious for current drinking.