Gorgeous coming together of gloriously fresh, ripe red and black fruits and deftly integrated tannins in a fruity, full-bodied mouthful that's both elegantly structured and pleasingly restrained. An engaging wine, with much purity about the palate and a subtle oakiness that enhances the whole.

Lavau, Le Carré, Côtes du Rhône Villages Valréas, Rhône, France 2012

The Lavau family has enjoyed a long and varied life in wine; it starting off in Bordeaux in the 19th Century, then diverting to Tunisia before returning to France – specifically the Rhône – 50 years ago.

Yet it was only in 2007 that Lavau, under the guidance of brothers Benoit and Frédéric, began to release wines under the family name.

Today it owns 160ha of vineyards – including Chateau Maucoil in Châteauneuf du Pape – although this cracking International Trophy winner comes from the very first Lavau-owned vineyard which was acquired in 2010.

Only the best parcels of fruit were selected and it just so happened that the vines which provided the grapes came from a perfect, square-shaped tract of land, hence the name Le Carré (Carré meaning ‘square’ in French).

The vineyards are located in the mountains of Valréas at 300 metres altitude. This means that the grapes evolve at a different pace and choosing the correct time to pick is key, but get it right and you have a wine resplendent with ripe fruit but also an inherent freshness.

Le Carré made its debut in 2010 and the Lavaus insist on making it only in the very best of vintages, and even then only in relatively tiny quantities: although Lavau produces 400,000 bottles annually, Le Carré’s production equals barely 24,000.