The Splendid Southern Rhônes from Domaine Palon

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Gigondas - L'heure de l'apéro

Hélène and I along with ‘cousin’ Robert visited the Palons in Gigondas a few weeks ago and gleefully sampled their latest vintages. It was an arduous task, but it simply had to be done. We followed up this selfless act of devotion to our wine club Members with a fine lunch in Séguret, but that is a delicious tale for another time.  Domaine Palon produces wonderful, elegant wines and their most recent elixirs certainly live up to their well-earned reputation.

Domaine Palon estate is located just below the fairytale village of Gigondas between Orange and Vaison-la-Romaine in the heart of Provence. The property covers fifteen hectares: seven devoted to Gigondas; five to Vacqueyras; two to Côtes du Rhône, and; one to table wine. The Palons produce a very limited quantity of superb wine each year.

Domaine Palon is a real family affair with a century-long grape growing tradition. Back in 2015, Valérie and Léopold Palon were wine makers in Gigondas and their son Jean founded the Cave Coopérative de Gigondas and served as its administrator from 1956 to 1978. His son, Jean-Pierre took over the reins of the co-op in 1978 (Jean-Pierre’s wife Annie was the financial director) and ran it until 2001, all the while selling his grapes to the same co-op. When Jean-Pierre and Annie’s son Sébastien graduated from oenology school, the family decided to leave the co-op and start making their own wines. 2003 was their first vintage.

Marie Line and Jean-Pierre Palon chat with Hélène
Sébastien, has turned out to be a wine-making magician, crafting elegant, exquisite potions from vines averaging over fifty years of age. Sébastien’s partner Marie Line looks after the wineries’ administrative duties and manages the gift shop while the latest addition to the family, their son Noé makes regular guest appearances around the property. 

Jeb Dunnuck (Wine Advocate) on the 2012 Southern Rhônes

“Gigondas is by far the standout, with extremely high-quality 2012s. In fact, I was shocked at the overall quality of the 2012s from this appellation, and in addition to the normal spice-driven aromatics and big structure that accompanies most wines from the region, the 2012s have beautiful purity of fruit and voluptuous, rounded textures that were hard to spit. Vacqueyras was also successful, more so in 2012 than 2011, with the majority of the releases being more mid-weight, charming and upfront. As a whole, this appellation rarely gets the concentration or structure that's found in the top Gigondas or Rasteaus. Nevertheless, there is a bevy of soft and delicious wines reviewed in this report.”

The Wines of Domaine Palon

We are delighted to once again offer you the wondrous southern Rhônes from Domaine Palon – this time the 2013 Côtes-du-Rhone ‘Cuvée Esparza’; 2012 Vacqueyras Rouge; 2013 Vacqueyras ‘Blanc du Bary’, and; 2012 Gigondas Rouge. Oh yes, the 2011 Vacqueyras and 2011 Gigondas in magnums as well.

For the first time, we are able to offer both the Gigondas and Vacqueyras Rouge in half-bottles (demis). Once again, we are able to offer the Vacqueyras Rouge and Gigondas in magnum format, this time from the 2011 vintage. And, the Palons have created a Sampler for us containing three bottles each of the 2012 Vacqueyras, two bottles of the 2012 Gigondas Rouge and one bottle of the 2013 Vacqueyras ‘Blanc du Bary’. All but the magnums come in six-bottle cartons. We will be taking your orders to the LCBO on Friday, October 24th.

2013 Côtes-du-Rhône ‘Cuvée Esparza’ – 13.5% Alc./Vol.           20/$120 for 6
This is a good Côtes du Rhone from a better than average vintage.  It is comprised of 69% Grenache, 16% Syrah and 15% Cinsault all hand-picked from the Palon’s vineyards in Vacqueyras and Sablet. The yield was only 15 hl/ha! It is a dark ruby colour with hints of violet. The nose is of pronounced aromas of ripe cherries, plums, fresh strawberries, garrigue, smoke, new leather, cassis and a hint of pepper. In the mouth it is big and satisfying, although at this early stage I find the tannins a bit harsher than usual. Served slightly chilled (16°-17°) it will go splendidly with roasts, grilled meats and medium cheeses. It will keep quite happily for three to five years. The production of this wine was very low and it is no longer available for sale at the winery. Order your southern Rhône now.

2012 Vacqueyras Rouge – 14.5% Alc./Vol.
$27/$162 for 6
$15/$$180 for 12
This gorgeous, medium-bodied wine is made from 75% Grenache, 16% Mourvèdre and 9% Syrah, hand-picked from vines averaging more than forty-five years old. It is a bright, clear ruby with complex aromas of plums, prunes, raspberries, black cherries, currants, new leather, Provençal spices and a trace of black pepper and cloves. In the mouth it is fresh and lively with surprising complexity and excellent balance. And, oh those delicate, silky Palon tannins. This wine has lots of character, depth and substance and will go beautifully with roasted fowl and charcuterie. This lovely concoction is a real pleasure to drink right now and will continue be so for another five to eight years of years. Order some for your drinking pleasure:

                                                                                    Regular bottles

2012 Gigondas Rouge – 14.0% Alc./Vol.  
$30/$180 for 6
$17/$$204 for 12
This elegant Gigondas is made from 79% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 6% Mourvèdre hand-picked from vines averaging well over fifty years of age. The Syrah and Mourvèdre are aged for twelve months in new oak casks. It is a dark crimson with pronounced aromas of raspberries, prunes, black cherry jam, pepper, roasted coffee beans, garrigue and spice. It is surprisingly big and velvety (even more so than the 2011 vintage) in the mouth with gentle tannins and impressive length. I’d like to see another six months to a year on it to get everything in proper balance. Served just below room temperature, this impressive wine will go perfectly with magrets de canard, wild game, roasts and medium cheeses. I’d decant it for at least an hour before drinking. It will cellar well for eight to ten years. Get a great southern Rhône now:

                                                                                    Regular bottles

Palon Southern Rhône Sampler – 13.0% - 14.0% Alc./Vol.         $28/$168 for 6
This is a great way to try three beautiful and distinctive southern Rhônes from Domaine Palon. You get three bottles of the 2012 Vacqueyras Rouge, two bottles of the 2012 Gigondas Rouge and one bottle of the 2013 Vacqueyras ‘Blanc du Bary’. A taste of the Southern Rhône just doesn’t get much better than this. Order your six pack of pure elegance now.

2013 Vacqueyras ‘Blanc du Bary’ – 13.0% Alc./Vol.                    $27/$162 for six
I love this elegant white wine. It is comprised of 82% Clairette and 18% Grenache Blanc, all hand-picked of course from vines averaging more than forty-five years old. The yield was but 13 hl/ha! It has seen some new oak, but not too much. It is a bright yellow-gold colour with a vibrant nose of grilled almonds, peaches, pears, honeysuckle, vanilla, exotic spices, toast and the slightest hint of petrol. It is very smooth and extremely well balanced – lots of fruit offset by a gorgeous acidity. It is fresh, complex and finishes with a burst of citrus. It would be perfect, served at about 8°, with oysters, other shellfish and rich poultry dishes. This is very yummy stuff indeed, very reminiscent of a top-flight Châteauneuf-du-Pape white. It will cellar nicely for at least five years. Caution, there is very little of it. Order your scarce and delicious white now.

2011 Vacqueyras Rouge Magnums - 14.0% Alc./Vol.                   $59/$177 for 3
2011 Gigondas Rouge Magnums     - 14.8% Alc./Vol.                   $66/$198 for 3
Both the 2011 Vacqueyras Rouge and Gigondas are much like their 2012 counterparts; perhaps not quite as full and round, but still remarkably delicious. Their aging potential is a couple of years longer than their regular-sized brethren. The Gigondas is a particularly good value.

Order your 2011 Vacqueyras magnums or 2011 Gigondas magnums now.

Important Note
The LCBO is the only entity authorized to sell beverage alcohol in Ontario. Arthur Sellers & Company and Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club do not sell or markup beverage alcohol, but rather, arrange for customers to purchase it from the LCBO. Our prices indicated above and on our website include the LCBO sale price plus a fee to cover the cost of sourcing, handling and marketing the wine. The LCBO’s sale prices are available on request.

LCBO Delivery Notices!

The LCBO has started to mail out delivery notices to all our Members who order wine. This notice is being sent when the wine has arrived from overseas and has been cleared for delivery by the LCBO. The form letter is two sided, one with the numeric details of the transaction and the other with pick-up instructions. Please note - the pick-up instructions do not apply to our Members.


First, they instruct our Member to pick up the wine at the LCBO’s warehouse loading docks at 33 Freeland Street in Toronto. Our Members don’t have to do this – we either cause the wine to be sent to an LCBO retail store that is conveniently located near our Member or we personally deliver the wine.

Second, they infer that our Members owe them for the wine and warn that they will be penalized if the wine is not picked up within a prescribed period of time. Our Members have already paid for their wine and don’t owe any additional money. We look after payment for them.

Please disregard these form letters when you receive them.

We have requested that the LCBO either correct the message or not send it at all. We also asked that they send the message electronically (they have the e-mail addresses of everyone who orders) to save money and be environmentally responsible. They have thanked us for our suggestions and we hope they will act on them.

Why is the LCBO sending out these notices?

When we inquired, we were told that this has always been their procedure; they just haven’t been following it.

We can surmise that it is in response to last year’s ruling by the Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario (IPC) ruling that the LCBO stop taking personal information from wine club customers. In a subsequent Ontario Superior Court of Justice appeal hearing, the case was remitted back to the IPC for reconsideration, i.e., the LCBO and the other involved parties were told to work out their issues between themselves. A key point in the ruling was, “it is not clear whether the IPC actually made a clear or consistent finding on the issue of whether the LCBO's customer is the club or the club member.” Since then, the LCBO has been determined to make certain that we are all fully aware that it is they who control the customer relationship when it comes to the purchase of beverage alcohol in the Province of Ontario.

To reinforce this point, they have instructed us to prominently post the following wherever we display our prices:

The LCBO is the only entity authorized to sell beverage alcohol in Ontario. Arthur Sellers & Company and Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club do not sell or markup beverage alcohol, but rather, arrange for customers to purchase it from the LCBO. Our prices indicated above and on our website include the LCBO sale price plus a fee to cover the cost of sourcing, handling and marketing the wine. The LCBO’s sale prices are available on request.

If you have any comments for the LCBO, please address them to Margaret Plant, Supervisor, Private Ordering ( and copy Archie Karanxha, Acting Manager, Specialty Services ( and Geoff Allaire, General Manager Operations, Toronto Retail Service Centre, Vintages Warehouse (

All this reminds me of a very old joke. It seems that a little devil was involved in a most unfortunate tangle with one of Toronto’s Red Rockets that resulted in his tail being severed. He was rushed to the Toronto General Hospital but was refused admission. The ER receptionist explained, “I am afraid you will have to take him to the LCBO ... they are the only ones in Ontario allowed to retail spirits.”

Kate joins the team!
We are delighted to announce that our eldest daughter Kate (shown here with a bottle of Penfolds Grange from her birth year!) has officially joined the Arthur Sellers & Company team. She is an avid wine enthusiast with a very fine palate and is renowned for her frequent thirsty assaults on Arthur’s Cellar. Kate will be assisting us with the day-to-day operation of our wine club and will introduce our fine wines to her market demographic (recognizing that this old tippler needs a little help marketing to the younger aficionados of the fruit of the vine). Please join us in welcoming Kate to our wonderful world of wine.

Hélène's 2014 Tour to Provence is Sold Out; But ...
She is taking reservations for September 2015. Long our favourite part of France, Provence is filled with so many wonderful things – marvellous markets, gorgeous perched villages, exquisite Mediterranean cuisine as well as the Mediterranean itself, a bevy of awe-inspiring Roman ruins, medieval towns, olive oil mills, Southern Rhône vineyards, sophisticated cities with great shopping, and constantly changing, spectacular scenery. And, you get to spend it all comfortably ensconced in your very own castle for a week, the enchanting Château du Goult. Maybe even get a group of friends to join you. That way, Hélène can massage her itinerary to meet your special interests.

Please contact Hélène for all the delectable details.

Where’s My Wine??
Generally, it will take three to four months from the time you order your wine till it is delivered. To find out where your next treasure is on its long journey from Europe, just click on Delivery Status in the side bar to the left. We update it regularly.

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