Rotem & Mounir Saouma Chateauneuf-du-Pape Arioso 2017  Front Label
Rotem & Mounir Saouma Chateauneuf-du-Pape Arioso 2017  Front LabelRotem & Mounir Saouma Chateauneuf-du-Pape Arioso 2017  Front Bottle Shot

Rotem & Mounir Saouma Chateauneuf-du-Pape Arioso 2017

  • V97
  • WS96
  • W&S95
750ML / 14.5% ABV
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  • JD99
  • WS97
  • WS98
  • D97
  • JD97
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750ML / 14.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

2017 was a small vintage impacted by heat and rain, resulting in wines of great concentration and density. Mounir’s élèvage has opened the structure of this raw material to reveal a latent minerality and perfectly formed structure within the dense fruit concentration of the vintage.

Critical Acclaim

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V 97
Deep shimmering magenta. Intensely perfumed, sharply delineated raspberry and boysenberry liqueur aromas are complicated by suggestions of candied flowers and exotic spices, and a subtle touch of earthiness emerges as the wine opens up. Palate-staining red and blue fruit, spicecake and lavender pastille flavors deepen steadily through the midpalate. Blends power and delicacy with a sure hand and finishes extremely long and spicy, with repeating red berry and floral character and fine-grained, harmonious tannins that come in late.
Barrel Sample: 94-97
WS 96
Wine Spectator

A bird of a different feather, from the beguiling charms of the floral and red fruit aromas to the silky, yet persistent structure that carries the core of kirsch, cherry preserve and violet notes along. Ends with a flurry of incense, rooibos tea and iron accents that gives one pause before taking another sip.

W&S 95
Wine & Spirits
This comes from the vineyard that started the Saouma’s Rhône odyssey, five acres in the lieu-dit Pignan planted in 1942. The ancient vines give miniscule yields, which the Saoumas ferment in whole clusters, letting ambient yeasts do the work; then they move the wine, lees and all, into 500-liter barrels and let it sit untouched for 36 months. Bottled with minimal added sulfur, the wine feels like a sleeping giant, monolithic in its brooding black fruit; then energy begins to course through the wine, awakening details over the span of many days. “It reminds me of James Milner,” said Corey Warren, our tasting coordinator, comparing its graceful, weaving power to the Liverpool football star. The blackberry flavors are completely saturated with dark, chewy tannins, muscular but so fine that they aren’t bruising. Still, this is built for the long run: Give it six years at least.
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Rotem & Mounir Saouma

Rotem & Mounir Saouma

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Rotem & Mounir Saouma, France
Rotem & Mounir Saouma Rotem & Mounir Saouma Winery Image

Let’s start at the beginning: five acres in Pignan. A sale was being conducted through the French state that presented the opportunity to buy a somewhat neglected parcel adjoining some outstanding plots (notably Rayas’ Bois de Rayas and the Pignan lieu-dit). The Saoumas have long loved the area and its wines, have many friends and saw they could potentially acquire land in a way that would not be possible in Burgundy. The sheer vitality of these vines today is extraordinary. 

They know and love Mounir Saouma because of the way he transmits both unknown and acknowledged great crus of Burgundy through his elevage into masterpieces, but it turns out he may be an even more talented vineyard manager. Mounir’s philosophy is in theory straightforward. He has worked to improve drainage in his vineyards, works with organic manures, and doesn’t mind the low yields he is getting in his plots. As is the case with most things in life, simplicity appears only after deliberation and experience. From this plot, Mounir has been able to acquire additional vineyards, and today farms a total of 21 acres across eight vineyards in all five villages of the appellation (Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Bedarrides, Sorgues, Courthezon, and Orange). 

The kaleidoscope of the terroirs he works with is reflected in the cellar, as well, where a combination of barrels, foudres, cement, and eggs are used, all except the last of which can be considered “traditional” within the diversity of Chateauneuf’s viticultural history. The fruit is pressed firmly with small presses dating from the late 1970s, left in tank to macerate at relatively cool temperatures for 8 days, and then transferred to the various vessels. The wines are never punched down, never racked, and never sulfured until a light addition a month before bottling. They age for between 24-36 months, including the white, which as you might expect has an outsized focus here.

The wines are stunning: precise, intense, complex, expressive visions of Chateauneuf.

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Famous for its full-bodied, seductive and spicy reds with flavor and aroma characteristics reminiscent of black cherry, baked raspberry, garrigue, olive tapenade, lavender and baking spice, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the leading sub-appellation of the southern Rhône River Valley. Large pebbles resembling river rocks, called "galets" in French, dominate most of the terrain. The stones hold heat and reflect it back up to the low-lying gobelet-trained vines. Though the galets are typical, they are not prominent in every vineyard. Chateau Rayas is the most obvious deviation with very sandy soil.

According to law, eighteen grape varieties are allowed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and most wines are blends of some mix of these. For reds, Grenache is the star player with Mourvedre and Syrah coming typically second. Others used include Cinsault, Counoise and occasionally Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Picquepoul Noir and Terret Noir.

Only about 6-7% of wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape is white wine. Blends and single-varietal bottlings are typically based on the soft and floral Grenache Blanc but Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussanne are grown with some significance.

The wine of Chateauneuf-du-Pape takes its name from the relocation of the papal court to Avignon. The lore says that after moving in 1309, Pope Clément V (after whom Chateau Pape-Clément in Pessac-Léognan is named) ordered that vines were planted. But it was actually his successor, John XXII, who established the vineyards. The name however, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, translated as "the pope's new castle," didn’t really stick until the 19th century.

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Grenache thrives in any warm, Mediterranean climate where ample sunlight allows its clusters to achieve full phenolic ripeness. While Grenache's birthplace is Spain (there called Garnacha), today it is more recognized as the key player in the red blends of the Southern Rhône, namely Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône and its villages. Somm Secret—The Italian island of Sardinia produces bold, rustic, single varietal Grenache (there called Cannonau). California, Washington and Australia have achieved found success with Grenache, both flying solo and in blends.

VNJ0530030017_03_2017 Item# 676387

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