Domaine Barge has been a family affair since 1860. The family has grown grapes in Ampuis, a commune in the Northern Rhône, consistently since 1860. Jules Barge bottled the family’s first wine in 1929. Jules made wine in the traditional style of the Côte-Rôtie appellation, blending wine from both Côte Brune and Côte Blonde. A few generations later, Gilles was the first of his era of winemakers in Ampuis to formally study oenology. Gilles worked as a wine merchant before joining his father in making wine in 1979.

When Gilles took over from his father in 1994, his main innovations were regarding the reduction of sulfur and ceasing to fine and filter the wines. The majority of the winemaking, however, continued in the tradition of his father, making use of whole cluster fermentation and neutral oak for ageing the wine. His most important contribution to the future of the domain was his decision to bottle expressive, terroir-driven single vineyard cuvees in addition to the traditional Côte Brune and Côte Blonde blend.

Gilles’ son, Julien, is now at the helm of the domain. Under his watch, the winery has moved toward even further simplicity and purity, especially in the vineyard. Julien has stopped using herbicides or unnecessary interventions. He seeks a partnership with mother nature, rather than a domination over her. Julien’s aim is to make wines that aren’t exclusively reliant on modernism nor tradition. In his words, “Faire du vin même si le monde moderne s’arrêtait de tourner!” (make wine even if the modern world stopped turning).

DOMAINE GILLES BARGE “LE COMBARD” – $106
Côte-Rôtie | 2015

Planted on the family’s oldest vineyard, Le Combard, this wine is 95% Syrah. The remaining 5% Viognier adds exotic floral notes and elegance. In the early 2000s, Gilles Barge re-cultivated this volcanic hill for the first time since WW2, which had halted attempts to make up for what was lost at the turn of the 19th century due to phylloxera. The wine is aged for 24-28 months in 600 litre demi muids. It has the potential to age for 10 or more years, but drinks amazingly after a long decant. It has flavours of bacon fat, crushed violet, rustic berry, graphite, and peppery spice. This wine is quintessentially Côte-Rôtie; it is equal parts power and finesse.

JULIEN BARGE “LES CÔTEAUX DE LÉGENDE” – $31
Côtes-du-Rhône | 2018

Les Coteaux de Légende Côtes-du-Rhône Is one of those rare wines that really hits it out of the park for a wonderfully comfortable price. This Côtes-du-Rhone is 100% Syrah from declassified Côte-Rôtie grapes. Julien Barge’s earnest desire to make modern wines with traditional techniques is obvious in this wine. Much more powerful and serious than your run of the mill Côtes-du-Rhone, this Syrah has classic characteristics of slate, black plum, ground pepper, and lilac. If you love high quality Syrah, you have to try this bottle. It is way too delicious to pass up.