Wednesday Wines – Episode 204 – The stunning 2023s from Domaine de l’Ile

Domaine De L'Ile

Winemaker Pierre Etcheberry and Jean-Basile Roland Directeur Commercial Château Rauzan-Segla / Château Canon / Château Berliquet / Domaine de l’Ile

Early samples of 2023s from Provence and the environs look promising.  But I only taste the best, so when the High Street wines appear, I am sure there will also be oceans of dull wines flooding onto the market.  It is reassuring to announce that Whispering Angel is a cracker, as is AIX, and I do not doubt that at the top of the pile, we will see some superbly complex, rewarding, refreshing and, if early signs are a guide, forward wines.  This is good news for us drinkers as they ought to hit their stride in time for the summer.

Wineries are trying increasingly harder to engender a genuine sense of ‘minerality’ and vitality into their wines, with an emphasis on enhancing their maritime climate in search of ozone brightness and thirst-quenching characters.  There is also a burning desire to make these wines gastronomically relevant as opposed to just easy gluggers.

Only a few wineries tick all the boxes I require to declare them complete and irresistible.  Domaine de l’Ile is one.  This is not just any winery; it’s a boutique operation owned by luxury French fashion house Chanel, and winemaker Pierre Etcheberry cannot hide his passion and pride when he pours his wines.  I have been a massive fan from the start, and I believe that the white and rosé are some of France’s most beautifully balanced and elegant wines. 

If you don’t follow the herd and are keen to find a wine brand that suits your particular tastes, then you must try these wines.  A handful of stockists in the UK have spotted them – Decorum Vintners was a pioneer, and Farr Vintners, Goedhuis Waddesdon, and Justerini & Brooks all stock them.  However, there should be a lot more who recognise the excellence and incredible value offered here. 

The white wine sells for around £30, and the rosé is around the £25 mark.  While the aforementioned merchants all sell the rosé, only a couple sell the white. I implore you to taste both of these magical wines.

Q Are these my favourite 2023s so far?  A Yes, they are.

Q Will I find finer wines?  A I hope so, but I doubt it.

Stocks arrive in the UK in early May so register your interest with your chosen merchant now.  They may have some 2022 still knocking around, so be sure to taste this vintage, too.  You can find my notes on the 2022s in Episode 152 of Wednesday Wines.

2023 Domaine de l’Ile White, Porquerolles, France

100% Rolle; 13.5% alc.; Harvest dates: 20th & 23rd August 2023

This is sheer heaven.  It is one of my favourite white wines in the whole of France, not just in the South and the islands.  Rolle (Vermentino) thrives in the finest Mediterranean climates, and the ratio of heavenly fruit to epic acidity and salinity is ravishing.  Luxuriously perfumed, with hints of jasmine, and stone fruit, it promises opulence and exoticism, but it is so nipped in and controlled on the palate that it takes the breath away.  With more solids employed in this vintage than in the delicious 2022, there is even more raspingly delicious traction here, too.  While this wine will need a little explanation to coax a punter into trading up from a bulky Chardonnay to this catwalk-ready beauty, it is worth the effort.  Every self-respecting sommelier in the UK ought to be championing this wine and passionate wine lovers ought to be straining every sinew to own stock.  I will keep banging the drum until everyone who cares about serious fine wine hears about this wine because one sip is all it needs to convert you into a lifelong fan.  18.5/20 (Drink now – 2026)

2023 Domaine de l’Ile Rosé, Porquerolles, France

32% Grenache, 26% Syrah, 23% Cinsault, 13% Mourvèdre & 6% Tibourin; 12.5% alc.; Harvest dates: Rolle 20th & 23rd August, Syrah 19th & 22nd August, Grenache 20th, 25th & 29th August, Tibouren 18th August, Cinsault 21st, 23rd & 26th August, Mourvèdre 26th, 30th & 31st August

The colour is anything other than pink, with coral and pale amber tones that look serious and grown-up.  The perfume is multi-layered with equal measures of spice and tanginess, tart stone fruit and abundant red fruits.  But this is not a wine with any trace of raspberries or strawberries.  There is tension here with pomegranate, cranberry, sour red cherries, pomelo and rhubarb.  This is a delicious wine with obvious flesh and allure, but it is extremely carefully delivered.  It makes other houses look like they produce wines for carefree teenagers, while Domaine de l’Ile is designed for experienced adults only!  Interestingly, Pierre and Jean-Basile brought a bottle of the 2020 vintage to show how beautifully these wines age.  While this was only the second vintage of this wine, it is precision-cut, resplendent and incredibly satiating.  The colour had barely budged, and the fruit was soothing and the finish keen.  This is a wine to savour as much as it is one to treasure.  Take my advice and track down these wines – you will not regret it!  18.5/20 (Drink now – 2026)