Wednesday Wines – Episode 152 – An idyllic pair from Domaine de l’Ile

I was thrilled to be invited to Chanel HQ in Bond Street last week to taste the new releases from their idyllic property on the Île de Porquerolles, off the south coast of Hyères, a couple of kilometres southeast of Toulon, in the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea. Winemaker Pierre Etcheberry was on hand to add some details to proceedings in what was a speedy and very enjoyable tasting. As regular readers know, I am a massive fan of these wines, and you can find write-ups of both the 2020 releases and the 2021s on this website. I expect the pair to increase in price slightly over the 2021s, so they should weigh in at a late-twenties price for the rosé and an early-thirties price for the white. I understand that the merchant list is ever-expanding (as I predicted last year), but those who first took the plunge and are likely to step up again are  www.goedhuis.comwww.handford.netwww.farrvintners.com and www.frw.co.uk. It goes without saying that production is limited. There is a certain amount of cache when you pour these wines, assuming people know the story and, most importantly, these are stunningly beautiful wines, so do not delay in contacting your preferred merchant.

2022 Domaine de l’Ile Blanc, Ile de Porquerolles, Côtes de Provence, France

Made from 100% Rolle, this is one of the most enchanting incarnations of this grape variety I have tasted. There is something glossy and shimmering about both of these 2022s, and unlike the edgy 2021 vintage wines, there is a precocity and silkiness here that seems to insist that you drink the wines immediately and with gusto. I tasted it at 10 am and found myself checking my watch as the desire to swallow a couple of mouthfuls almost overcame me. There is imperceptibly more richness here, thanks to the hot, dry weather, and the harvest took place early, between the 17th and 20th of August. While the palate is pure and gossamer-smooth, there are thrilling reference points in this wine’s flavour that point to its precise origins. The crisp acidity balances the alert, welcoming fruit and the pear and white peach fruit flavours are cut with hints of eucalyptus, lashings of ozone freshness and discreet moments of pine resin. The result is a wine that appears sculpted and statuesque instead of liquid and languid. There is no interference from any oak, allowing the cadence of flavour on the palate to keep up a brisk trot, refreshing the taste buds as it goes. While it was a warm vintage, there is plenty of soil and airborne moisture here, so there is a sense of atomiser freshness, which spritzes the palate, cooling the whole experience and bringing even more freshness to the whole.  I always adore the white wine from this property, but in 2022 it moved on a couple of steps in overall elegance and poise, and I cannot think of a more perfect wine for a balmy summer’s evening. Just make sure you secure your stock now!   18.5/20 (drink now – 2024)

2022 Domaine de l’Ile Rosé, Ile de Porquerolles, Côtes de Provence, France

The rosé harvest started on the same date as the white wine and continued for just shy of a fortnight. It was all over and done with before September kicked off, and like its sibling, this is a beautifully relaxed and enticing wine. I am told that there is considerable interest in the Tibouren variety at Domaine de l’Ile, and we can expect to see this grape play a more active role in the blend as Syrah wains. The final blend in this vintage is a racy 27% Grenache, 26% Cinsault, 22% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre and 5% Tibouren, and the shale and clay soils allow every aromatic element in this quartet of grapes to shine. All of the vines are farmed organically, as you might expect. With little handling involved, aside from excellent vineyard husbandry and sensitive winemaking a given, Pierre explained that the critical decision each year is on what date they pick each parcel of vines. It is safe to say that in 2022 Pierre and his team nailed these decisions! Again a beautiful background of shy saltiness allows the rose petal, rhubarb stalk and melon nuances to shine, and, in common with the white wine, the herbal and forest tones bring even more drama to proceedings.  This is my favourite Domaine de L’Ile release to date, and this is solely down to the heavenly texture and seriously impressive length of finish. Apparently, the ‘mistral dew’ played a big part in the success of these 2022s. This is the first time I have heard this expression used, and I urge you to deploy it at every gathering where you serve these fantastic wines (I will be doing so). You will leave your guests stunned and hopefully a little bewildered with your advanced wine terminology and unquestionable Porquerolles expertise.   18.5/20  (drink now – 2024)