A few years ago I had this wine for the first time and was shocked at its quality. I had never heard of Domaine de Roally but bought one bottle on the recommendation of a local wine shop. It cost $20 and tasted like it could cost twice that or more. Imagine my delight on finding a few more at another local shop on close out for $11. Why is wine like this ever on close out? God only knows.
A quick web search will show you that I was woefully behind the curve in not knowing about Roally. Happily I’ve changed that. The proprietor Henri Goyard is something of a legend and iconoclast. As with a few other avant gard French producers, Goyard has been denied certain AOC status at times for producing wines that don’t show the “typicité” of their appellation. In Goyard’s case, his late picked Chardonnay grapes occasionally tinged with botrytis produce uncommonly rich, even decadent white wines from a region more typcially known for lean, crisp green apple aromas and flavors. Sometimes Goyard’s wines are sweet, depending on whether the fermentation ended dry or with a little residual sugar. Usually, the wines are great. Read more about Roally at the importer's site.
So the other night I went to the cellar looking for something special, and found this. A quick pour showed a beautiful golden color. I swirled the wine and took a sniff – wow. Without any airing, the wine was already so complex. Ripe yellow fruit, minerals, cinnamon and other spice aromas without any new oak smells, and the unmistakeable honeyed scent of botrytis. In the mouth, the wine is still young but expansive with terrific flavors that echo the aroma. I noticed more sweetness than other bottles, really just a hint of residual sugar balanced nicely with fresh acidity that together draw out the finish. This wine offers stunning quality for what is entry level pricing from higher end appellations. This is Macon wine that tastes like top shelf white Burgundy from the Cote d’Or, and perhaps should be a model for what Oregonians could do with Chardonnay from less than exquisite terroir.
Sadly, this was my last bottle of what turned out to be Goyard’s final vintage before handing things off to the nephew of Macon legend Jean Thevenet. I have one bottle of the ’02 in the cellar, and it’s still available locally for $23. There has been no apparently drop off in quality, so look for Domaine de Roally. I only wish I had more from old man Goyard.