Bonjour aux amateurs des vins du Rhone,
The various satellite villages of the southern Rhone valley of France are a treasure trove of rich and satisfying wines, chock full of Provencal character.  One of the northern most towns of the Cotes du Rhone villages appellation is the picturesque town of Seguret, pictured here.  Settled almost two thousand years ago, it was chosen as a natural stronghold, easy to defend thanks to the large limestone crag that contains it. The town’s name is accordingly derived from old Provecal dialect: Segur, meaning “sure”; in uncertain times, one could feel safe here.  The town saw its greatest fortifications built in the middle ages, much of which still remain to this day.  This dramatic backdrop coupled with the pristinely maintained relics of its history has earned Seguret a place on the “official” list of the 140 most beautiful villages of France…..
It was precisely this inimitable beauty, coupled with the higher elevation limestone/grey marl soils of its steep vineyards, that stole Walter McKinley’s heart.  Walter and his wife Ronnie always had a soft spot for the wines of the southern Rhone, ever since they chose a wine from Vacqueyras as the feature house red at Ronnie’s restaurant in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  When the time came for the couple to chose a retirement dream, they looked no further: in 1998, they purchased 17 hectares of vineyards, averaging 55 years of age and an elevation of roughly 1000 feet.  The majority of the vineyards lay behind the town, up a winding road into the hills,  with vines planted on narrow terraces that face S-SE and S-SW.  They knew that they had the raw ingredients to make beautiful wines, and they had the passion to see it through…..
Whilst they were thrilled with the land that they were able to acquire, there was no estate or winery that came along with it.  Sparing no expense, they built a state of the art, gravity flow winery which has housed every vintage they have made.  It didn’t take long for the fruits of their labor to come to maturity: by 2003, they had so much demand for their wines of richness and finesse, they bought another 7 hectares just to keep up!!! They were making waves, and people all over France (and the world) were taking notice.  Robert Parker spoke of the domaine in his reviews of the 2005 wines:

“This is the best estate today in Seguret, and they continue to take the quality of their Cotes du Rhone to an exciting level. Of course, Grenache is the base for these wines. They are gorgeously made, pure, rich, beautifully textured, savory, and everything a wine in Provence should be. All of this can be attributed to Englishman Walter McKinlay, who purchased 40+ acres in 1998. It is amazing how quickly he has become a superstar in Seguret.” 

The superlatives have hardly stopped coming:

“Mourchon is amongst the most interesting 5 per cent of wine made today” – Jancis Robinson
“In just over a decade, this family-owned estate has become not only a top producer in the southern Rhone, but also a reference point for what’s possible in the picturesque and touristy hilltop village of Seguret.”
-Robert Parker on the 2009 collection
“These are all sensational wines from proprietor Walter McKinlay.” – Robert Parker on the 2010 collection

Currently, it is a family affair with their daughter Kate, her husband Hugo, and their three children also at the helm.  Life is good in Seguret!

Onto the wines, all in stock:
2012 Seguret Cotes du Rhone villages rose “Loubie” $13– A blend of 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah, from both saignee and press juice.  This is both rich and crisp, with good delineation.  A wonderful and uncommonly good rose….

2012 Cotes du Rhone blanc “la Source” $13– A blend of Grenache blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Clairette, and Bourboulenc.  A classic and pure quaffing CdR blanc, an aromatic delight.

2010 Seguret Cotes du Rhone villages Tradition $16–  Good luck finding better Cotes du Rhone villages for the money than this……………… Here is Robert Parker’s review:

“This blend of two-thirds Grenache and a big chunk of Syrah (about 25%) and old vine Carignan exhibits a peppery, garrigue-dominated, black cherry and black fruited nose and flavors. Full-bodied, spicy and concentrated, with silky tannins, this beauty displays classic Provencal characteristics and is remarkably full-flavored and dense. It should drink nicely for 5-6 years, if people can resist it.” 91 points.

2010 Seguret Cotes du Rhone villages Grande Reserve $25 per, or $23 per on a 6pk+– This has to be one of the greatest values in luxury wine at terribly affordable prices; it ages quite well too.  The Parker review:

“The 2010 Cotes du Rhone-Villages Seguret Grande Reserve is sensational. A two-grape blend of two-thirds Grenache and the rest Syrah, with the Grenache aged in tank and the Syrah in small barrels, it has terrific freshness, delineation and purity. It is full-bodied, black/purple in color, with stunning richness and intensity. This is another great effort from proprietor McKinlay, who has become the reference point for the wines from the idyllic Provencal hilltop village of Seguret.” 93 points

2010 Seguret Cotes du Rhone villages Family Reserve “G” $39 – The rarely seen Family reserve wines are WOW factor wines, and then some.  More from the Bob:

“The most expensive wine is the 2010 Family Reserve Grenache. This very limited cuvee comes from old vines near the village of Seguret, where the winery is located. It is an absolutely stunning wine, with an inky bluish/purple color, abundant raspberry and blackberry liqueurs intermixed with some forest floor and floral notes (lavender?), and a full-bodied, intense mouthfeel, with good acidity and a hint of minerality. This is a young, relatively large-scaled wine with striking purity and balance. It should drink well for up to a decade, which is an uncharacteristically long time for a Cotes du Rhone-Villages Seguret.” 94 points

2010 Seguret Cotes du Rhone villages Family Reserve “S” $39 – 

“The 2010 Family Reserve Syrah is an altogether different animal than the Grenache cuvee (purchasers need to read the back label to see whether it is the Grenache or Syrah cuvee). The second most expensive wine, it is aged in small wood for nearly a year before being bottled. As one might expect, it displays notes of forest floor and blackberry as well as hints of road tar and truffle. The wine is saturated, rich, full-bodied, and actually surprisingly complex and well-made, even though it is 100% Syrah from the Southern Rhone, which tends to be a somewhat worrisome proposition in all but the most exceptional terroirs, which proprietor McKinlay obviously has. This wine should drink nicely for up to a decade.” 91 points

I feel terribly fortunate to introduce these wines from two wonderful vintages: 2012 as a fruit driven vintage of charm, and 2010 as one of the most poised and complete vintages since perhaps 1990??  I look forward to spending time with Walter and his Family in Seguret later this year….I can already tell, they’re my kind of people….LIVE AND LET LIVE!!!
As a bit of a teaser, Walter plans on coming to visit us in late June.  We will certainly host some memorable events and tastings to celebrate, if there is any wine left!!!
As always, with any questions or interests, you can reach me at rob@downtoearthwines.net.
CHEERS TO THE MCKINLAYS AND LIVING THE DREAM! YOU CAN NEVER RETIRE WHEN YOU DO WHAT YOU LOVE!!!!!
PS-A SHOUT OUT TO ALEX ANTHOPOULOS FOR MAKING THIS HAPPEN!!!