Plant Robez 2014, Epesses, Blaise Duboux, Lavaux, Vaud (Plant Robert):
This relic from another century is actually a local mutation of gamay noir boasting a scant ten hectares extant in a smattering of Lavaux villages. Left for dead as recently as 1966, several prescient growers gathered to plot its resurrection and in 2002 launched the Plant Robert Association (plant-robert.ch). The first order of business guaranteed the preservation of the clone then, subsequently, established the rules of engagement.
The twenty member grower’s association pledged strict limits on new sites for planting, maximum permitted yields and inspections for provenance and authenticity: all offerings must be 100% plant robert produced from member-estate grown grapes. For their efforts the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity (fondazioneslowfood.com) recognized plant robert as an authentic regional specialty, distinguishing it from the gamay clones of Beaujolais and Switzerland, in celebration of its unique attributes of flavor and appearance.
This Blaise Duboux rendition is stellar for a number of reasons. It exudes “grape-ness”: the chewy, juicy, crunchiness of whole, fully-ripened fruit. It is sweet (not sugary), fat and complete. In other words, delicious. Most growers recommend 3-5 years rest in bottles but my supply won’t last out the year. It’s that good. Blaise is the 17th generation of his family in charge but there is a distinctly modern gloss to the wines (biodynamics and minimal intervention), especially the crystalline whites headed up by the fabulous Dézaley “Haut de Pierre” from chasselas, and this nifty Plant Robez. Needless to say quantities are limited but well worth the search.
The Wine: A thrillingly transparent, violet color with hints of blue. Absolutely compact to the rim. A sensational nose of tobacco leaf, pepper, black fruit, cream and freshly turned earth. As anticipated, the palate delivers an explosion of blackberry-raspberry cream fruit, kirsch, black pepper and crushed stone. The herbal aspect plays around the edges but never intrudes, weaving through the glass in perfect balance. Polished acids are on hand to accentuate the succulence. The texture is of chamois leather and fruit liqueur. The finish is sweet, caressing and satisfying. This is as nice a red wine as I’ve had from Vaud and a candidate for my glou-glou hall of fame.