Many of my favorite wines are threaded with incredible stories of people and places. But this particular bottle, Domaine Viret Mareotis, had a story that sent me spiraling down a wormhole of research.
The wines come from the Viret family in Cote de Rhone, specifically in the St-Maurice village (which just a short drive from old-school winemakers like the lauded Chateauneuf du Pape). Led by winemaker Philippe Viret, Domaine Viret employs holistic, natural and biodynamic wine processes (all certified organic by Veritas and certified biodynamic by Demeter). Still, they take it one step further through a process called “Cosmoculture”.
Cosmoculture blends organic, biodynamic principles with beliefs of nature from ancient cultures. Viret and family have built the vineyard specifically to harness the natural energy of the terroir. Crystals around the cellars and vines pull in electromagnetic energies while standing stone obelisks placed between the vines generates energy from the stars—an ancient practice of Incan and Mayan origins. By studying these energies, Philippe believes he can rebalance the elements on the property, creating a natural ‘immune system’ for his vines and wines.
The entire vineyard at Domaine Viret is on the site of ancient Roman ruins. The Virets replicate Roman architecture in the architecture of the buildings on-property, employing techniques used when building the Egyptian pyramids. If that’s not dedication, their aging cave is built atop a pure quartz natural spring to promote positive vibes.
Wine-wise, the family was the first vineyard in France to reintroduce the use of amphora (a large clay vessel) in the aging process over barrels, giving a rich, deep texture to the wine from the oxygen that seeps in through the clay.
What results in the Domaine Viret Mareotis is a big, powerful blend of Grenache and Syrah aged for 24 months in amphora. If you think this sounds like a lot of horoscope hippie-dippie nonsense, let the flavors speak for themselves—there’s big dark fruit with savory undertones and lots of dark chocolate flavors on the finish. Powerful, energetic wines—maybe he’s onto something here.
Last Week’s Pick was Stekar Rebula.