About Me


Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Château Routas in Provence, France

I have spent the past few days; enjoying the generous hospitality of Sir David Murray at his property and winery; Château Routas in Provence, France. Where I sampled and reviewed a selection of quality wines with guests and friends that included; Sir Sean Connery and Grahame Haggart (aka Haggie). The Routas winery was founded back in 1992 and was purchased by Sir David Murray in 2005. The 260 hectare property includes approximately 54ha of deliberately planted parcels of vine, scattered throughout the rocky, heavily-wooded property in this unspoiled, elevated area of Provence.

 

The Château Routas reputation for quality Provençal wines (AOC Coteaux Varois en Provence) continues to grow under the Murray family stewardship - with David’s son Keith Murray managing the business. Jean-Louis Bavay (chief winemaker) produces an excellent range of honest and early drinking style red and white wines.
The location and setting of Routas is simply spectacular; right in the heart of Provence, halfway from the French Riviera on the Mediterranean coast and the foothills of the Alps.
The many Château Routas vineyards sites, planted with a several varietals have a rich soil diversity which is the key to their vine and grape development - resulting in small vineyards that are often unusual in shape, hugging the angular terrain. The estate encompasses dense woods, vineyards, olive trees, and oak trees hiding black truffles. Bright red poppies grow alongside brilliant yellow sunflowers, and the surrounding forests hide a substantial number of wild boars - which are unfortunately a little too fond of the Routas grapes come harvest time. The landscape includes a stunning geological feature, the 885m deep ‘Infernet’ Hole (the Devil's Hole), a canyon thought to have been created by a meteor collision - something to definitely look out for while driving around the property.
Some vineyard sites have soils that are red as crushed brick, while others consist of crumbly grey limestone mixed with pockets of iron-rich, red clay, and stones that reflect the hot summer sun. At 400m above sea level, the elevation is  among the appellation's highest, providing cool nights that slow the ripening of the grapes, contributing fresh notes, good colour and complexity, plus dictating harvest dates that are up to a month later than other estates.

 

Currently Routas produces approximately 22,000 cases of southern-French-style, estate-grown and bottled wines that have received very positive comments from recognised wine critics like; Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. The Routas wines are so diverse, that a broad-stroke comment would state the red wines can display a robust, Rhone-like richness, and the whites showing elegance and vitality.
During my stay - I had the opportunity to sample several wines, and during one evening meal we opened the Routas Cyrano 2003 alongside the 2007 vintage, consisting of 100% Syrah. The grapes are sourced from 47 year old vines that are carefully hand harvested, sorted and destemmed, without crushing. The wine is fermented in open-topped fermenters and hand plunged twice a day and pumped over once a day. The wine is then aged for 15 months in Francois Frères oak barrels, 25% are new, the rest 2-4 years of age, and then bottled without filtration. The 2003 coming from an extremely intense growing season, showed real power, complexity and length that coped with ease the flame grilled red meats we enjoyed from the BBQ that evening. 

 

Other wines enjoyed during my stay included:

Routas 'Cuvee Petit' Rose 2011
A bright pink blush coloured wine. On the nose - wild strawberries with a hint of candy floss. The palate is light and fresh with young strawberries flavours, bright acidity and a clean finish. If you want to feel 10 years younger, share a glass of this wine with friends at your next BBQ.

Routas 'Rouviere' Rose 2011
In the glass a rosé blush colour with a bright shine and crisp edge. Made from 45% Cinsault, 35% Grenache and 20% Syrah. On the nose freshly cut watermelon, ripe peach aromas and early morning floral notes. The palate is a live with ripe peach flavours, wild strawberries with hints of mineral notes all balanced with crisp acidity giving a lively finish to the wine. If you could bottle the Provençal sunshine in a bottle, this would be it - your smile will last all day.

Wild Boar White 2011
Pale straw colour, with a light green hue. On the nose lime sherbet, citrus notes, ripe pear and a hint of gooseberry. A 60% Viognier and 40% Chardonnay blend. On the palate tropical fruit notes fill the mouth, rounded off with clean, fresh acidity, making for a very easy drinking style wine. After a long day venturing around the Provençal region, or simply sitting under a tree, shading from the midday sun - this wine will refresh the most tired of taste buds.

Routas 'Coquelicot' Viognier 2010
Straw, gold in colour. The wine has a floral nose, hints of lilies and white rose petals. An elegant 80% Viognier and 20% Chardonnay blend. The palate has white peach, nashi pear and herbs. The palate is full of bright fruits, mineral notes, crisp natural acidity giving the wine a lively lingering finish. Found some French cheese in the fridge and some fresh fruits, this wine will pair well and get you ready for the main course.

Routas 'Coquelicot' Viognier 2011
Pale straw in colour. The nose has subtle floral notes, apple leaves, with crushed green herbs. An exquisite 80% Viognier and 20% Chardonnay blend. The palate is packed with ripe pear, citrus fruits, and honeysuckle and lime characters. The wine is well balanced with a subtle mineral notes and a pronounced lengthy finish. Perfect with Asian dishes, grilled vegetables, seafood, poultry or as an aperitif. Packed with personality, if you like aromatic wines and clean fresh fruit characters to match with a wide array of light cuisine, this wine is for you and your friends.

 

It was hard to pack the bags and make my way to my next destination – as the people, the setting and the wines are simply so approachable, friendly and engaging. A stunning location and unique terroir; with so much potential - it has been a pleasure to have visited Routas before and to now see over several years the carefully implemented changes in the vineyard and winery and the results are clear to see in honest well made, early drinking wines - crafted for any occasion to be shared with good friends and fresh cuisine.
As with all projects and business ventures that Sir David Murray is involved with - he is determined to explore all options to achieve the best results. The Routas wines being crafted by his passionate, empowered and talented team - are now showing great personality (receiving top scores and reviews) and building a solid foundation for an exciting future for all their wines.

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