Domaine de Marcoux

The Cream Rises to the Top: Châteauneuf-du-Pape (and Friends) From a Biodynamic Artisan
Domaine de Marcoux
The two vintages we offer today could hardly have been more different for Sophie Armenier and her son, Vincent Estevenin. The two Châteauneuf-du-Pape reds hail from 2021, a year when the notorious April frosts crept far south. Marcoux’s Grenache crop was around 50% down. It was also a longer and cooler growing season, allowing this domaine to craft a more refined and structured style than the previous series of warm and dry years. This producer craves purity, clarity, perfume and seduction in its wines. That’s what you get from 2021. Both wines are at the top of their game, even if you get the sense that some critics prefer the broader 2020s. Regardless, 2021 is an excellent vintage for Marcoux—as you can read below—and one that no doubt helped the domaine win a third star in La Revue du Vins de France Green Guide this year, putting them on the same page as Clos de Pape and Rayas.

The Côtes du Rhone and Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc were grown in the considerably warmer 2022 vintage. Combining full ripeness and freshness is not easy in the southern Rhône, which is one reason Marcoux is held in such high regard. Earlier flavour ripeness and livelier acidities associated with biodynamics are factors, as are rigorous fruit selection and Marcoux’s collection of old vines. Then, there might also be a bit of genius in how Marcoux tempers these more powerful years with energy and finesse; the wines might become juicer but seldom heavier. The cream always rises to the top.

The Wines

Domaine de Marcoux Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2022
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Domaine de Marcoux Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2022

Marcoux’s silky and perfumed Côtes-du-Rhône is drawn from two small, biodynamically farmed parcels of old vines on the edge of the Châteauneuf vineyards in the northern sector near Orange. There’s one hectare at Maucoil (planted in the 1930s) and another at Boislauzon (planted in 1965). The grapes are sorted both in the vineyard and cellar—not all Côtes du Rhône is created equal.

This year's blend is the traditional mix of 80% Grenache with a balance of Syrah, Mourvèdre and a little Cinsault. The harvesting is always done by hand, and fermentation takes place in cement tanks with wild yeast. It has more power and texture than last year’s wine, alongside plenty of perfume, pretty, ripe red and fruits and fine length. In other words, it is a cut above and a delicious introduction to the domaine’s wines.

“All destemmed and made in concrete tanks, the 2022 Cotes du Rhone comes from two small parcels of vines. Mainly Grenache, with smaller amounts of Mourvèdre and Syrah, it's a terrific value this vintage, offering up loads of black cherries and blackberries, garnished with an appealing waft of garrigue. Full-bodied and soft, it's awfully easy to drink and enjoy.”
90 points, Joe Czerwinski, The Wine Advocate
Domaine de Marcoux Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2022
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Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2022
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Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2022

Frankly, Marcoux’s white is one of Châteauneuf’s best. La Revue du Vin de France agrees with us, writing: “[The domaine’s white wines] regularly establish themselves among the most beautiful of the appellation; cultivation has a lot to do with it.” The first thing to say is that it’s atypically Roussanne-dominant (up to 70%), blended with Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc and Clairette. Most of the Roussanne and Bourboulenc hails from two parcels: Les Esqueirons, where the cool, limestone-based soils are perfect for white grapes; and Les Bosquets, where the Bourboulenc brings citric freshness and drive to the layered Roussanne. The rest of the grapes come from parcels of Grenache Blanc and Clairette, which are co-planted in predominantly red sites. Marcoux currently farms only one hectare of white grapes, although another fifth of a hectare of Clairette will come on stream soon. 

In the cellar, the grapes are pressed as whole bunches and ferment naturally in mostly steel tanks. An ever-increasing portion of the wine is now raised in low-impact Stockinger cask, and Sophie Armenier’s son Vincent Estevenin has also introduced some sandstone amphora into the mix. As always, there is no bâtonnage or malolactic conversion and even in warmer-than-average years, the wine always retains an outstanding balance between volume and freshness. Very aromatic this year (think spring meadows and citrus fruits), it offers a fabulous balance of textural fruits countered by chalky structure, stony depth and terrific zesty length. Great class and crazy delicious. It should live magnificently, developing more complexity, but it's just a wonderfully delicious drink now.


“Mainly Roussanne but with a fair bit of Bourboulenc and Clairette, the 2022 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc went into demi-muids and amphora this year and did not go through malolactic fermentation. It's a full-bodied, richer example of white CdP despite that, with honeyed notes of ripe pear and pineapple, a broad, expansive feel on the palate and a long, harmonious finish.”
95 points, Joe Czerwinski, The Wine Advocate
Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2022
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Domaine de Marcoux Lirac La Lorentine 2021
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Domaine de Marcoux Lirac La Lorentine 2021

Marcoux’s biodynamically farmed Lorentine vineyard lies in the heart of the Lirac appellation on the red clay, limestone and galet soils of Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres (in the valley of Balouvière). Over many years, the Armeniers have slowly peeled back the layers of Lirac’s neglected terroir. They have restored life to the soils through cultivation and organic/biodynamic practice and are producing wines worthy of this excellent terroir. The 2021 is a blend of Grenache (50%) and equal parts Syrah and Mourvèdre, fermented with indigenous yeasts and raised for 15 months in concrete and old wooden barrels. 

Very Marcoux in style, full of the Ameniers’ trademark purity and balance. Bright, blueberry fruits on the nose with garrigue, black olive and pepper and some savoury wet-stone minerality.  It’s generous and textured on the palate but light on its feet, full of bright fruit, violets, anise and subtle minerality. It finishes long and fresh with fine, powdery tannins. A real pleasure, and effortless to drink despite its impressive depth of flavour.

“There was no frost in Lirac, so yields were healthy as well. Ripe darker, almost blue fruits, garrigue, and pepper, as well as a touch of flowers, all define the nose, and it's medium-bodied, has good concentration, and a great finish. This cuvée also offers pleasure, and the 2021 will be no exception.”
Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuk.com
“The nose has a careful air of mixed fruits, dark berries. The attack is crystalline, with free run, still cautious fruits, neat juice late on. It’s upright and cool, outside the main group of wines, carries interest.”
John Livingstone-Learmonth, Drink Rhône
Domaine de Marcoux Lirac La Lorentine 2021
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Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2021
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Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2021

This year’s blend is 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 7% Syrah and 3% Cinsault. Marcoux’s Châteauneuf is drawn from 13 parcels of vines, biodynamically farmed and dotted across the appellation. With a concentration on the famous Crau plateau, the parcels encompass a wide range of soil types, from the sandy soils of Charbonnières to the red clay and galets in L’Arnesque and Les Bosquets, to the limestone and white clay in Les Esqueirons and Beaurenard, and finally the red clay and gravels of Les Galimardes, Les Serres and Les Plagnes in the south. This means Marcoux can produce a wine that genuinely reflects the Châteauneuf terroir as a whole. It also allows the domaine to craft balanced wines year in, year out, as each parcel is vinified separately before blending (and any parcels that do not fit the bill are typically declassified to Côtes du Rhône or sold to the négoces).

As is customary, the wines were naturally fermented and raised in concrete vat (up to 90%) and large oak, without any new oak. The aging spanned 18 months, and the wine was bottled unfiltered. After a run of broader-shouldered wines, this year’s release tastes positively airborne! The shape, sculpted by finely woven tannins and refreshing tension, is impeccable, and the finish pure and focused. “It's a nice vintage, very different from past years, but good. I like the tannins—you can drink the wine young and enjoy it later,” says Vincent Estevenin. In short, it’s a long, intense and classy offering from one of the region’s great artisans.

“It is medium to full-bodied, displaying lovely aromas of raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, roasted herbs and a pinch of licorice. The fruit has a beautiful, jewel-like quality to it and shines brightly. What a beautifully refined offering from Sophie Armenier and her son Vincent.”
91-93 points, Nicolas Greinacher, Vinous
“Classic Marcoux notes of raspberries, kirsch, sappy garrigue, and spicy flowers emerge from the 2021 Châteauneuf Du Pape, a pretty, medium-bodied, elegant, finesse-driven beauty that offers silky tannins, no hard edges, and a wonderful sense of both complexity and freshness. This classic, nuanced 2021 shows both the estate and the vintage beautifully.”
91-93 points, Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuk.com
Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2021
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Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2021 (1500ml)
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Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2021 (1500ml)

This year’s blend is 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 7% Syrah and 3% Cinsault. Marcoux’s Châteauneuf is drawn from 13 parcels of vines, biodynamically farmed and dotted across the appellation. With a concentration on the famous Crau plateau, the parcels encompass a wide range of soil types, from the sandy soils of Charbonnières to the red clay and galets in L’Arnesque and Les Bosquets, to the limestone and white clay in Les Esqueirons and Beaurenard, and finally the red clay and gravels of Les Galimardes, Les Serres and Les Plagnes in the south. This means Marcoux can produce a wine that genuinely reflects the Châteauneuf terroir as a whole. It also allows the domaine to craft balanced wines year in, year out, as each parcel is vinified separately before blending (and any parcels that do not fit the bill are typically declassified to Côtes du Rhône or sold to the négoces).

As is customary, the wines were naturally fermented and raised in concrete vat (up to 90%) and large oak, without any new oak. The aging spanned 18 months, and the wine was bottled unfiltered. After a run of broader-shouldered wines, this year’s release tastes positively airborne! The shape, sculpted by finely woven tannins and refreshing tension, is impeccable, and the finish pure and focused. “It's a nice vintage, very different from past years, but good. I like the tannins—you can drink the wine young and enjoy it later,” says Vincent Estevenin. In short, it’s a long, intense and classy offering from one of the region’s great artisans.

“It is medium to full-bodied, displaying lovely aromas of raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, roasted herbs and a pinch of licorice. The fruit has a beautiful, jewel-like quality to it and shines brightly. What a beautifully refined offering from Sophie Armenier and her son Vincent.”
91-93 points, Nicolas Greinacher, Vinous
“Classic Marcoux notes of raspberries, kirsch, sappy garrigue, and spicy flowers emerge from the 2021 Châteauneuf Du Pape, a pretty, medium-bodied, elegant, finesse-driven beauty that offers silky tannins, no hard edges, and a wonderful sense of both complexity and freshness. This classic, nuanced 2021 shows both the estate and the vintage beautifully.”
91-93 points, Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuk.com
Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2021 (1500ml)
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Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge Vieilles Vignes 2021
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Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge Vieilles Vignes 2021

Christened by Robert Parker as “one of the world’s truly magnificent wines”, this rarity is one of the most limited and sought-after wines of Châteauneuf. The fruit comes from three crown-jewel parcels of exceptionally old vines in Charbonnières and Les Esqueirons. Charbonnières (planted in 1900) lies on the northern side of the Crau plateau, mostly on sandy soils with molasse sandstone. The vines are nearly all Grenache with a few rows of Mourvèdre. The plot in Les Esqueirons lies behind the famous château ruins on the hill's western side. Here, the Grenache vines (and some Roussanne) are rooted in limestone and white clay. Some were planted in 1900, and the rest in 1949.

The fruit is treated in the same minimalist fashion as the classic bottling. Thus, what you taste over and above that wine simply reflects the fruit of these ancient vines and their terroirs. No new oak is used throughout the maturation; the wines ferment naturally and are raised for 18 months in concrete and large oak foudre before being bottled unfiltered. The Vieilles Vignes is only bottled in great vintages—which, in a way, says it all. The reviews below describe the wine nicely. 2021 has delivered an outstanding Châteauneuf-du-Pape; few in the region will have made a finer wine this vintage than the Armenier family.

“The 2021 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes is showing beautifully, displaying lively crushed violet, cranberry, red cherry, licorice and dried herb aromas. Full-bodied, elegant and fitted with velvety tannins, it is well-balanced by fresh acidity, closing with a long-lasting finish. As usual, it's a blend of very old vines from two parcels in Charbonnières and Les Esquirons. Only 4,000 bottles produced.”
93-95 points, Nicolas Greinacher, Vinous
“The 2021 Châteauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes is a bigger, richer effort that shows the pure, vibrant style of the vintage beautifully. Black raspberries, spring flowers, sandalwood, and spicy Provençal notes all define the nose, and it's medium to full-bodied on the palate, with an ultra-fine, seamless mouthfeel, velvety tannins, and a great finish. Count me impressed. It's going to drink nicely in its youth yet also evolve for 15-20 years.”
93-95 points, Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuk.com
Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge Vieilles Vignes 2021
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★★★ “Marcoux’s are amongst the top wines of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. They were one of the first adopters of biodynamics. Here, the wines have a natural and a rare depth, an energy and power that does not rely on artificial breeding.” Le Guide des Meilleurs Vins de France 2024



“[This] biodynamically farmed vineyard has risen to the top of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s quality hierarchy. The two red wines produced have been stunning, with the regular cuvée of Châteauneuf-du-Pape one of the finest in the appellation, and the limited production Cuvée Vieilles Vignes one of the world’s truly magnificent wines.”
Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate



“For value, shrewd consumers should reach for the Côtes du Rhône and Lirac bottlings, which can come close in quality to the blended Châteauneuf. the Vieilles Vignes is often in another quality realm altogether, but it’s priced accordingly and produced in small quantities.”
Joe Czerwinski, The Wine Advocate

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