A new paradigm in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is not a phrase we wrote to describe the wines of Rotem and Mounir Saouma, masterminds behind the lauded Burgundian label Lucien le Moine. It’s what James Molesworth of the Wine Spectator wrote, and many throughout the press and trade have expressed. The wines have almost a haunting balance: how is it possible to express such detail and transparency of fruit and spice in a wine that also captures the warmth and joy of Southern France?
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Rotem And Mounir Saouma
Rhone Red Blend
Mounir Saouma describes Omnia as a mosaic. Rightfully so, as fruit is sourced from nine vineyards across all five of the Châteauneuf communes: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Courhézon, Orange, Bédarrides and Sorgues. Omnia, Latin for “all,” is Mounir's ambitious attempt to encompass the entire region’s terroir, winemaking history, and perhaps future, in one glass.
When describing Mounir, the word “no” comes up often. Was he born in France? No. Does he come from a winemaking family? No. Does he care that his style is considered by some as different? Unequivocally, no. Then there’s his approach to winemaking: no racking, no fining and no filtering. His method is steadfast and leading publications such as Decanter describe him as:
one of the most original thinkers working in French fine wine today.
Mounir is an anomaly. Interestingly enough, his goal within his eccentricities is to return to the classic, historic methodology of producing Châteauneuf-du-Pape: let the terroir define the wine, not the winemaking.
Predominantly Grenache, with 10% each Syrah and Mourvedre, Omnia 2015 is a wine with beguiling fruit and savory richness. In true Mounir fashion, the fruit is pressed firmly with small presses from the late 1970s, left in tank to macerate at relatively cool temperatures for 8 days and then transferred to various vessels. The kaleidoscope of the terroirs he works with is reflected in the cellar by a combination of barrels, foudres, cement and even eggs—all of which except the last can be considered “traditional” within the diversity of Châteauneuf’s viticultural history. The wines are never punched down, never racked and only receive minimal sulfur after 18 months.
Last year, I had the privilege to meet Mounir over a shared meal with close friends. He, unsurprisingly, is a character that's a bit larger than life—with strong opinions on everything. Over the course of the meal, his rather intense passion for his Rhône and Burgundy ventures were discussed in the most fascinating detail. While sipping on our beers (we had to take a break from the Grand Cru burgs) it became clear that he has dedicated his life to this. Like his passion, Omnia is penetrating, powerful, and deserving of everyone’s attention.