Estates in Côte-Rôtie are relatively new. At least, that is true of estates that bottle their own production. Yet there has always seemed to have been a Domaine Barge. The estate buildings are on a country lane just outside Ampuis and at the foot of steep vineyards. The entrance seems to be via a garage and there is always a pickup truck parked there. One door leads to a tasting room, dark, even sombre like a hunting lodge maybe. The other door opens up to the cellars and tidy rows of oak barrels.
There are two generations at work here. Gilles is one of the great personalities of Côte-Rôtie and very much a countryman at heart. Once a couple of hares were lying across the table. The wines are un- fussy, deeply traditional, generous and true. Nothing fancy here, just a respect for the wines and a desire to please.
Like many top estates, land holdings are scattered across the appellation and of course the best wines are made using a blend of different sources. Nonetheless two wines stand out. Côte Brune is syrah from old vines from the northern part of the appellation. The wines are darker and have much more depth and invariably these always need time. The other cuvée is called Combard and comes from the more granitic south and on slopes that are so steep that Gilles had a monorail built there. These wines are succulent and sappy, and utterly delicious.
Winemaking is not too interventionist. Oak is used but the barrels are not new so that the wines are not oaky. Today Gilles has taken a bit of a back seat, allowing his son Julien to take over.