Domaine de Nalys
It was a bit over a year ago that I encountered Domaine de Nalys at Vinisud in Montpellier. The wines stood out as they had more white wines than any other winery and on top of that, they were quite good. Thankfully I took the director, Isabelle Ogier’s card and a few months later, when Provence was in its unearthly glow of Fall, I make a trip up there to visit Domaine de Nalys as well as others.
A bit of history first in that Nalys finds its roots back in the 17th century, 1630 to be exact when the original family Nalys owned the estate until the French Revolution. A new family bought the estate and tended it for seven generations with Dr. Philippe Dufays being the last member of the family (he wisely married in) to take care of it. He did a great deal to reinvigorate the vines and elevate the estate to the point seen in today. Unfortunately after his only son died in an accident, he decided to sell everything in 1975 and the company, Groupama bought it and continues to run it to this day.
They lay claim to a wondrous slice of the Châteauneuf soils including the famed La Grau from which nearly all photos of the large stoned vineyards of galets roulés come from. The area around the château is called Le Bois Sénéchal and offers them a wholly different type of soil to work with in the form of sandstone. In total they hold a quite substantial 50ha of vineyards. While Grenache accounts for some 60% of the vineyards (and rightly so) they grow 13 of the permitted varieties in total which, for those whose heads might swim trying to imagine all these unfamiliar French names (sorry, no Cab or Merlot in the Rhône) they grow rows of, just in front of the winery with a very nice sign telling which is which. Naturally, I photographed them all given that in Châteauneuf they harvest both reds and whites at nearly the same time and all the grapes were ripe.
A delightful winery to visit, they’re open most every day for drop-in visits and, as I found to be the case with many wineries in Châteauneuf they do indeed speak English very well. You can walk through the front part of the cellar and if memory serves, more involved tours can be reserved with a trip to the vineyards and more of the cellar. Whatever you particular desire, it’s a recommendable stop in the region.
Cuvée Classique Blanc 2013
Citric, grapefruit, beeswax, and soft mineral aromas with an overall freshness that carry through to the finish with a touch of tart melon at the end.
55% White Grenache, 19 % Clairette, 12% Bourboulenc, 12% Roussanne, 2% Picpoul 13.5% 17€
Salty minerality on top of layered sandstone, mature lime zest. Excellent mouthfeel, full stony, and complex with a slight touch of ash on the finish.
Roussanne, Clairette, White Grenache 14% 31€
Cuvée Classique Rouge 2011
Red fruit notes with candied cherries. Potent body with notes of licorice and pungent black pepper.
48% Grenache, 34% Syrah, 18% “others” 14.5% 17€
Le Châtaignier 2010
Dusty fig and plum aromas with a round, smooth mouthfeel and red fruit finish.
92% Grenache, 8% Mourvèdre 15.5% 31€
Elegant plum, prune, and orange peel notes in the nose. Great, firm tannins in the body with pronounced minerality that flows with ease through the finish.
Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre 15.5% 31€