I probably owe it to my student debt to use my degree in psychology once, just to make sure it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
While looking at the rather pragmatic Southern Rhône AOC pyramid that illustrates Cairanne’s elevation from named Côtes du Rhônes Villages to Cru status it set off a distant clang in my mind palace – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Bear with me on this, it’s a bit of a stretch but I think it works, and so, as that famous L’Oreal ad once urged ‘here comes the science bit – concentrate!’
Maslow’s pyramid is a theory of motivation, at the base of the pyramid are your basic needs, the requirements that need to be met in order for you seek higher level needs. As a human, these needs might be food, water and a habitable climate. As a wine, it may be to descend from lovingly tended vines and to be given the chance to shelter in barrel until you’re ready to be drunk. In Southern Rhône terms, we may be at the Côtes du Rhône or Côtes du Rhônes Villages level here.
Still with me?
The next level on Maslow’s pyramid is concerned with the sociocultural dimension and how relationships with others and communication with peers can shape your development.
In 2011 a group of Cairanne vignerons showed founding winemaker at Domaine Boutinot Rhône Eric Monnin their rare ‘bijou’ plots of ancient Rhône varietals Carignan Noir, Cinsault, Counoise and Mourvèdre. Eric saw this as a fantastic opportunity and together with Domaine Boutinot Rhône’s handpicked 50-year-old Grenache Noir and Syrah, grown in the limestone slopes above Cairanne, the idea of ‘Les Six’ was born.
You see, this isn’t totally ridiculous.
Next up for mustachioed American Maslow was ‘Esteem needs’, simply put this boils down to feeling respected. Now, we’re certainly not ones to go out and actively seek adulation but it’s rather nice when it happens both for our wines and for the regions we work in. Since 2011 our ‘Les Six’ has been a consistent high scorer whether it’s at the Sommelier Wine Awards, the Decanter Wine Awards or the Lower Heswall 2010 ‘Best Red with a Bee on the label’ category. As I said we don’t make our wines for awards and the more exciting news came earlier this year when, after a process of patient negotiation, Cru status was officially sanctioned for Cairanne from the 2015 vintage.
You’ve come this far so you might as well stay with me until the end.
The top of the Pyramid is ‘self-actualisation’ or achieving your full potential, put in a sexist way Maslow said: “what a man can be, he must be”. For a wine this is to be exceptional. The reality that not many of us reach this point isn’t actually as sad as it sounds. The reason is that once we reach our targets, we re-set and we go again. With the launch of ‘Les Six’ 2015 as Domaine Boutinot Rhône’s first Cru Cairanne, and the 2017 harvest boding well so far, who knows what Eric is planning next…
Boutinot ‘Les Six’, Cairanne AOC Magnum, 2015
We are delighted to be releasing our 2015 ‘Les Six’ as our first classified cru Cairanne. Cairanne AOC Cru status recognises the quality of our vineyards and winemaking techniques. Six varieties of hand harvested grapes from low yielding vines are fermented in open top vats, using only naturally present wild yeasts.
The Rhône headliners Grenache and Syrah provide the juicy fruit and colour. The traditional obscurities, Counoise, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Carignan add peppery notes, spice and crunchy acidity to proceedings.
Available in limited edition magnums by November ’17 to mark the release of our first Cru. 75cl bottles to follow in 2018.