Posts Tagged ‘Ventoux’

The History and Wines of Chateau Juvenal

The Front of Chateau Juvenal. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

The Front of Chateau Juvenal. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

I first tasted the wines of Chateau Juvenal at the Eric Solomon Portfolio Tasting which you may read about in my post The Eric Solomon Selections Portfolio Tasting – Part 2.  Aline Santoro is part of the family who owns Chateau Juvenal and she was pouring her wines at a table next to Philippe Cambie.  Philippe Cambie is the consulting oenologist for Chateau Juvenal and his name has been featured in several of my posts.  Aline poured the 2011 Chateau Juvenal, Les Ribes du Vallat and the 2011 Chateau Juvenal, Le Terre du Petit Homme.  While I tasted the wines Aline told me these bottles represented the first vintage produced at the chateau.  Aline and I spoke some more at the portfolio tasting and later conversed via email.  I became curious about the history of the estate and how they came about producing new wines.  Aline and her family kindly answered my many questions and even sent me the samples featured at the end of this post.  I find the history of the estate interesting because it touches on a subject I am starting to explore, the intersection of garden and vineyard history.

Chateau Juvenal in 1870. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

Chateau Juvenal in 1870. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

Though the 2011 vintage was the first produced at Chateau Juvenal, grapes have been grown for decades with the history of the estate going back into the 19th century.  In 1830 Joseph Antoine Nicolet purchased the Graveyron farm along with the surrounding fields.  At the time there had been a mazet in existence for 15 years as well as 100 year old olive trees.  Joseph Antoine Nicolet and his wife Therese Allegier raised their only daughter Amélie Nicolet who later married Leon Thouvenot in 1853.  Born in Vosges, he was a polytechnic graduate who went on to become the principal engineer of a French water network.  He built the existing chateau and commissioned the surrounding park at the end of the Second Empire in 1870.  Angelle, the daughter of Leon Thouvenot and Amélie Nicolet, married Adrien Juvenal.  Adrien Juvenal was a lawyer from a Provencal family.

Original Plan of the Park.  Image from Ch. Juvenal.

Original Plan of the Park. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

The commission for the park was assigned to a landscape architect from Lyon.  The original plan and many of the plantings still survive.  These include twenty different species of conifers, five different types of hardwoods, shrubs, and trees for the orchard.  For generations the estate was dedicated to the production of olives.  By 1956 some 5,000 olives trees were farmed on 18 hectares.  That year the terrible frost destroyed 80% of the olive trees.  Despite the survival of some of the oldest trees the orientation of the estate changed.  While the exact reasons are unknown they may be inferred.  An olive tree does not have roots, instead there is a spongy mass of wood underground.  It is said that an olive tree never dies because it may generate a new trunk from the underground mass.  It takes over five years and up to 10 years before it may return to production.  However, it takes less time for a newly planted grapevine to bear suitable fruit, so chances are economic reasons changed the orientation.  In 1958 the first grapevines were planted but the wine was not marketed.  In the 1960s, the grandparents of Sébastien Alban planted vineyards on plots neighboring Chateau Juvenal.  In 1975 Sébastien’s parents, Jean-Claude and Mireille Alban began maintaining both the Juvenal and Alban estates.

View from the Front Entrance of the Estate.  Image from Ch. Juvenal.

View from the Front Entrance of the Estate. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

In 1995, the fruit of Juvenal was brought to the local cooperative Balma Venitia.  It is here that the commercial wines were first made under the Chateau Juvenal label.  Sébastien Alban began working with his family estate in 1997.  Balma Venitia similarly produced his family’s wines under the label Domaine Alban.  In 2001 Anne-Marie and Bernard Forestier purchased Chateau Juvenal from Charles Martin the great-grandson of Angelle and Adrien Juvenal.  Anne-Marie and Bernard Forestier continued to produce wine at the local cooperative for the next decade.

At the same time Anne-Marie and Bernard Forestier set about restoring the chateau and the land.  The restoration was thorough.  The roof of the chateau was restored with Roman tile using as many of the original pieces as possible.  The windows, doors, stairs, and rooms were left in their original locations.  The south facing windows were preserved with original glass where possible. The introduction of modern plumbing, electricity, and communication lines was done within the walls so as not to disturb the flooring.  The kitchen maintains its original design with the pile in the patouille, the potager under the window, the fireplace, and cabinets with their original doors.  They also purchased the furniture in the chateau which predates the 1870 construction and stretches back to the 17th century.  The farm building needed a bit more work such as the introduction of a staircase and re-slabbing of the floors so they were level and of proper height.   The original pond survived and is home to a constant population of toads who eat dragonflies and sing at night.

Sebastien Alban, Jean-Claude Alban, Bernard and Anne-Marie Forestier. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

Sebastien Alban, Jean-Claude Alban, Bernard and Anne-Marie Forestier. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

Anne-Marie and Bernard Forestier became partners with Sébastien Alban in 2011. They merged their land to provide 20 hectares of vines, built the Chateau Juvenal cellars, and vinified wine at Chateau Juvenal for the first time in September 2011.  Upon deciding to produce wine at Chateau Juvenal the partners asked for the help of Philippe Cambie.  The timing was fortuitous.  Philippe Cambie, who lives some 25 miles away in Chateauneuf du Pape, was looking for an organic estate in Cotes du Ventoux.  Having met at the right time he agreed and they begin to work together.   Anne-Marie and Bernard Forestier have three children who also help with the estate Daniel, Eva, and Aline, whom I met.

Today the Chateau Juvenal and Alban estates contain four hectares of olive trees and 20 hectares of vines which are farmed organically.  The olive grove contains more than 500 trees of the Aglandau and Verdale Carpentras varieties.  Some of these trees survived the devastating frost of 1958 and are now more than 300 years old.  The olive trees planted for the development of the 1870 park are no longer in the original locations and were probably moved.  The olive grove has been classified for the production of AOC Provence olive oil since 2007. Many different old trees survive on the estate.  Of the conifers the Blue Atlas Cedar, originally from Atlas Mountain of Algeria, is protected by law and may not be cut down. These Blue Atlas Cedars are amongst the oldest in France.  Joining them in protection are the enormous oak trees.

View of the Olive Trees From the Vineyard. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

View of the Olive Trees From the Vineyard. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

The vines are planted on a clay and limestone gravel pit located on the southern foothills of Graveyron.  The oldest vines are from the original planting in the 1950s with an average age of 40 years.  Thus the majority of the vines date to when Jean-Claude and Mireille managed both of the estates.  The oldest vines are typically Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah with the younger vines being Mourvedre, Clairette, Viognier, and Muscat.  Grenache is typically located on pebbly and well drained soils with Syrah on muddier ground supported by pebbles.

Sick and dead vines are actively replaced.  Sébastien and his team look to limit yield and respect nature.  The Grenache vines are en goblot with the other varietals trained.  Grass is grown between the rows of vines for several reasons.  It forces the vines to grow deeper roots where there are more earthworms aerating the soil and microorganisms.  It also improves drainage by allowing the water to penetrate into the ground instead of running off on the surface.  It also provides a home for predator insects which eat insects that are bad for the vines.  The grass is mown as needed.

Parcels for La Terre du Petit  Homme. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

Parcels for La Terre du Petit Homme. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

In the winter Sébastien cuts the vines with yield in mind, in the spring he debuds and tops with sap in mind, and in the summer he removes misplaced clusters and thins to let in light.  The fruit is harvested by hand on a parcel by parcel basis over several weeks.  The harvest dates are selected under Philippe Cambie’s watch.  All sorting takes place in the vineyard.  Once the fruit from a parcel is harvested it is immediately cooled in the winery.  Fruit for the white and red wines are cooled for 48 hours.  The fruit is then destemmed and put in a pneumatic press for two to three hours.  It is then run into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with each tank representing a single parcel.  The tanks destined for red wine see a long maceration with pump-over and delestage twice a day for one month.  Malolactic fermentation is avoided for the white and rosé wines by using sulfites.  For the red wines malolactic fermentation begins naturally at the end the winter.  Wood is used in the form of French oak barriques.

Alex Hand Harvesting. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

Alex Hand Harvesting. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

Several different cuvees of wine are produced.  There are white, rosé, and red wines made under Ribes du Vallat.  These wines are produced using parcels located on the Ribes “slopes” bordering the Vallat “ditch” which passes through the vineyards marking the junction between the two estates.  There is a red wine made under Le Terre du Petit Homme.  This wine is produced using fruit from parcels which, according to legend, were visited by a little man with a little black dog who could find truffles like no other dog.  These parcels are located at the upper part of the estate.  Lastly, there is the Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.  The assemblies for these cuvees are defined through a selection based on plots and a winter tasting of each tank by Philippe Cambie.

Sebastien Working in the Winery. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

Sebastien Working in the Winery. Image from Ch. Juvenal.

I tasted both of these wines over several days and felt that they showed best after being open for two days.  These wines should be left in the cellar for a year or two and I do agree with Aline’s view that they will be at their optimum in three or four years.  While my preference leans towards the savory La Terre du Petit Homme I remain fascinated by the overall quality of the inaugural vintage.  Aline reports that the 2012 vintage was similar to 2011 and that the wines might become even better.  I certainly am curious to taste the next vintage and perhaps after reading this post, you will too.  The wines of Chateau Juvenal are imported into the United States by Eric Solomon.


2011 Chateau Juvenal, Les Rives du Vallat, Ventoux
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 25% Syrah aged for nine months on the lees in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 15.5%.  The color was a light to medium grapey red.  The nose revealed grapey aromas of red fruit. In the mouth there was vibrant but ripe red fruit on the tip of the tongue.  The wine became expansive in the middle with power to the black, pungent flavors.  There was a strong finish with ripe spices and tang on the back of the tongue.  After extensive air the wine became better integrated, maintaining both power and concentration, and developing expansive powdery texture which coated the inside of the lips.  *** 2015-2019.


2011 Chateau Juvenal, La Terre du Petit Homme, Ventoux
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah with the Grenache aged on the lees in stainless steel tanks and the Syrah in French oak barrels for 12 months before combined aging for one month.  Alcohol 15.5%.  The color was a light to medium purple ruby.  The nose was a little more pungent.  It showed blue fruit with lots of flavor then blacker fruit in the finish.  The wine was savory with texture and ripe, pebbly tannins which coated the mouth.  With extensive air it showed more power and a more tannic structure framing the fresh fruit.  The aftertaste exhibited a wild nature on the back of the throat. *** 2015-2023.


Four From France

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Of the four wines below you may drink the 2012 Domaine La Ferme Saint-Martin, La gerine while the 2009 Domaine La Casenove, La Garrigue ages.  The later was surprisingly well balanced and remained tight over two nights so definitely leave it alone in the cellar.  The 2009 Domaine du Traginer, Collioure is approachable at this point but I would cellar it to develop complexity.   I gather the 2011 Axel Prufer, Four du roi, Le temps de cerises is a “natural wine”.  The nose is certainly unique and stimulating to smell.  Otherwise it is a grapey wine to drink now.  It was not my preferred style.  The Domaine La Casenove was purchased at MacArthur Beverages and the rest at Chambers Street Wines.


2009 Domaine La Casenove, La Garrigue, Cotes Catalanes – $18
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 40% Carignan, 30% Grenache, and 30% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose remained tight with whiffs of herbs and black fruit.  In the mouth were concentrated ripe fruit, a hint of woodbox, and a Bordeaux like nature.  With air there were focused ripe, black fruit, cool acidity before becoming dry and firm in the finish.  There was good clean, balance all around so this wine should develop quite well.  **(*) 2015-2025.


2009 Domaine du Traginer, Collioure – $19
Imported by De Maison Selections.  This wine is a blend of 25% Mourvedre, 25% Syrah, 25% Grenache, and 25% Carignan.  Alcohol 13.5%,  The wine starts a little soft and encompassing then builds good blue fruit with texture and some tartness.  The tannins were enjoyable and evident in the finish, along with acidity.  This is a young but approachable example of affordable Collioure.  **(*) 2015-2022.


2012 Domaine La Ferme Saint-Martin, La gerine, Ventoux – $13
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  Alcohol 13%.  The flavors were a little tart with red fruit and orange peel that became a little round.  The ripe citric acidity on the tongue mixed with the orange and red flavors.  The wine was on the lighter side but had serious, young fruit.  Despite the fruity  structure this is an early drinking wine.  ** Now-2014.


2011 Axel Prufer, Four du roi, Le temps de cerises – $23
Imported by Fruit of the Vines. This wine is a blend of 30% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 30% Carignan, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon with was produced using carbonic maceration and no sulphur. Alcohol 12%.  The nose bore a mixture of old and vintage perfumes, evocative of a 1980s “country store.”  The wine was prickly at first then settled down, like a grapey natural wine with red fruit.  The flavors were acidity driven with plenty of mid-plate acidity and the tiniest Pilsner hint.  ** Now.


Four From France

March 27, 2013 1 comment

I need to clear out some recent tasting notes.  This is a good thing for these four wines were all enjoyable.  The Domaine Clos du Rouge Gorge was purchased at Chambers Street Wines with the rest at MacArthur Beverages.


2011 Terrasses du Frigoulet, Coteaux du Languedoc – $11
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is a blend of 35% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 15% Mourvedre.  The color was a light, grapey ruby.  The light nose was fresh and young with grapey fruit aromas.  The mouth follows the nose with some density, integrated acidity, and black berries.  There were some fine, spiced ripe tannins in the finish.  It shows some lift and good power.  *** 2014-2018.


2011 Domaine de Fondreche, Fayard, – $15
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14%.  The light to medium strength nose came out of the glass with pungent aromas of berries.  There was ripe, almost sweet, mixed fruits in the mouth. It was a mouthful of flavor which was a little spicy, mixing with the robust berries.  The flavors turned blacker with some raciness.  Drying, ripe tannins came out in the sweet, spicy finish.  The aftertaste carried a spicy cinnamon note.  **(*) Now-2019.


2011 Domaine Clos du Rouge Gorge, Cotes Catalanes – $18
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from 25-year-old vines.  It was pressed by foot, vinified for three months in old wooden vats, then aged for eight months in stainless steel.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was an almost medium grapey ruby.  The light nose bore purple, grapey fruit and cherry perfume.  The mouth had grapey fruit with a medium bodied, young nature.  There was some lightness which matched the acidity on the tip of the tongue.  The flavors became drier towards the finish.  It eventually takes on a little, attractive earthy note.  **(*) 2014 – 2018.


2005 Tardieu-Laurent, Vieilles Vignes, Vacqueyras – $25
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache sourced from 90+ year old vines and 10% Syrah sourced from 30-year-old vines.  It was aged for one year in old oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was light with black fruit and smoke.  In the mouth there was blue and black fruit along with Big Red flavors.  Despite the healthy dose of wood this was an attractive wine with its spicy oak notes.  There were fine, strong coating tannins and a little warmth in the finish.  It firmed up with air with the fruit becoming dense and leaving impressions of rough, wood box flavors.  *** Now-2023.


The Eric Solomon Selections Portfolio Tasting – Part 2

March 8, 2013 2 comments

Many of the wines I came across at the Eric Solomon Portfolio Tasting have appeared on this blog in an earlier vintage. I do try to contact wineries and winemakers so I was thrilled to know that two were present at this event. In this case the influential Philippe Cambie and Frederic Chaudiere of Chateau Pesquie. The Philippe Cambie table had a slew of enjoyable wines which were new to me. I continue to enjoy the wines of Chateau Pesquie including my first experience with the 2011 Artemia. The 2011 Roger Sabon, Les Olivets is another example of why I like Chateauneuf du Pape.


About halfway through the tasting the crowds and noise level noticeably increased. I made may way to the smaller front room to taste the wines of Robert Sabon along with some Spanish wines. There was a good vibe in the air which was evident at these two tables.


Afterwards I returned to the larger back room to taste the wines of Philippe Cambie, Chateau Pesquie, and Chateau Puech-Haut. Below you will find my remaining tasting notes.

Table 34 – Roger Sabon

Didier Negron

Didier Negron

I manged to stand to the side and taste through most of the Sabon wines. I must admit, as good as the Prestige and Le Secrete des Sabon were, I was very attracted to the Les Olivets. It was an old-school, honest glass of Chateauneuf du Pape which I really wanted to drink.

2012 Renaissance Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $52
This wine is a blend of 40% Roussanne, 20% Clairette, 20% Bourboulenc, and 20% Grenache Blanc aged in tronconical vats. There was a light, tight nose of yeasty white fruit. In the mouth the flavors were tangy on the sides of the tongue then the fruit came out with mixed flavors, some weight, and a lees character in the finish.

2011 Rhone by Roger Sabon, Cotes du Rhone – $16
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault which was aged in tank. There was a lifted nose of red fruit. In the mouth the fresh red fruit was round with tang, acidity, tannins, and structure.

2011 Les Olivets, Chateauneuf du Pape – $48
This wine is a blend 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 15% Cinsault which was aged 18 months in foudre and tank. The light, unique nose was foxy, earthy, and stepped out of the glass. The mouth followed the nose with rustic fruit which was light before making way to black and blue fruit. Old-school and neat. Quite approachable.

2011 Prestige, Chateauneuf du Pape – $80
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Counoise and Vaccarese, and 5% Mourvedre which was aged 18 moths in demi-muids and tronconical oak. There was a very tight, controlled nose with the Grenache and Mourvedre coming through. In the mouth there were focused, ripe red and blue fruit with an old-school note. Needs some age.

2011 Le Secret des Sabon, Chateuneuf du Pape – $230
This wine is mostly Grenache aged in 600L dmei-muids. The light but familial nose was good all around. There were denser flavors in the mouth, a lot going on, with drier fruit filling the mouth. Spicy tannins were evidence as the structure came out. For the cellar.

Table 35 – Eric Solomon Selections Spanish Wines


Wow, expensive modern Spanish wines. This table had a crowd so it was a bit difficult to jockey for a pour and the spit bucket, my notes were thinner as a result. Still the Bodegas Aalto wines made for a seductive pair. The Benjamin Romeo, Contador was stunner and absolutely refused to die off.

2011 Benjamin Romeo, Que Bonito Cacareaba Blanco – $80
This wine is a blend of 73% Garnacha Blaca, 15% Malvasia, and 12% Viura aged eight months in 100% new French oak. There were interesting flavors in the mouth which were low-lying, expansive then fresher with ripe, citrus tannins.

2010 Benjamin Romeo, La Cueva del Contador, Rioja Alavesa – $100
This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. There was a good nose of lovely, floral red fruit. In the mouth the flavors were concentrated but had a lightness to them. Definitely young with nice acidity and firm tannins which were fine, grapey, and drying.

2010 Benjamin Romeo, La Vina de Andres, Rioja Alavesa – $160
This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. There was a caramel popcorn nose which mixed with red fruit aromas. In the mouth it was a touch slaty with red fruit, fine-grained, spicy tannins, and an inky aspect in the finish. This young wine is nice and will certainly age.

2010 Benjamin Romeo, Contador, Rioja Alavesa – $375
This wine is a blend of 86% Tempranillo and 14% Garnacha which was aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. The nose was a touch pungent and quite assured. In the mouth there was a salty, good start with power to the flavors but a light nature. The spicy tannins came out before the black and red fruit in the finish. The flavors clung to the sides of the mouth providing a long aftertaste. Needs some age and will be long-lived.

2010 Bodega Aalto, Ribero del Duero – $56
This wine is 100% Tinto Fino which was aged 23 months in used French and American oak barrels. A beautiful wine with concentrated flavors, pencil lead, and powdery red fruit and citrus.

2010 Bodegas Aalto, PS, Ribera del Duero –
Produced only in the finest vintages, this wine is 100% Tinto Fino aged 30 months in 100% new French oak. This dense wine was serious, seductive, and clearly well-done.

Table #22 – Chateau Puech-Haut

Jean Claude Gelats

Jean Claude Gelats

It has been some years since I last drank a bottle of Chateau Puech Haut. The rose are an interesting pair with Jean describing the Prestige as a barbecue wine and the Tete de Belier as gastronomique. The first four red wines I tasted all showed beautiful fruit and individual personalities. The Prestige rouge is a joint project with Philippe Cambie and Eric Solomon. It is well done, packing in a lot of flavor for the price.

2012 Prestige Rose, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $22
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Cinsault which was aged in stainless steel. This showed good textured fruit on the nose. The mouth follows the nose with lots of flavors, a long finish, and ripeness in the aftertaste. A nice wine.

2012 Tete de Belier Rose, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $40
This wine is a blend of Mourvedre and Grenache which was aged in stainless steel. This was very aromatic with pastilles and grapefruit aromas making for a beautiful nose. The mouth follows the nose with tighter flavors, up front acidity, acidity in the finish, and some tannins.

2011 Recantou, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $80
This wine is a blend of Syrah and Grenache with 70% aged 16 months in new oak and 30% aged 12 months in used oak. There was a tight nose of nice fruit. This was great in the mouth with subtle weight, black perfumed fruit, and expansive flavors. There was very good flavor to the fruit which works well with the structure.

2011 Quercus, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $80
This wine is a blend of Grenache and Syrah aged 16 months in tank. The tight nose had a hint of ripe, fine berries. In the mouth the flavors were more lifted with mixed juicy fruits in more obvious structure. There were finely ripe, drying and powerful tannins. There was a black, minerally finish along with cinnamon spices, and a spicy note. Young.

2011 Bosque Negre, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $80
This wine is a blend of Mourvedre and Grenache with the Mourvedre aged 16 months in new French oak and the Grenache in tank. There was a good smelling nose. The mouth follows the nose with a sense of lightness despite the good, powerful fruit and powerful structure. There were black and blue fruits in the finish.

2011 Reboussier, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $80
This wine is a blend of 80% Carignan and 20% Grenache aged 14 months in new oak barrels. With a familial nose the mouth showed a density to the flavors. There was focused ripeness to the fruit with good structure and nice tannins. This will age well but is already long on flavor.

2011 Prestige Rouge, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $22
This wine is a blend of 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah which was aged in concrete. There was brighter blue fruit which packs lots of flavor. There were very, very fine tannins which were well-integrated into the wine. The flavors turned black towards the finish. The aftertaste was sinewy with a spicy note.

Table #13 – Chateau Pesquie

Frederic Chaudiere

Frederic Chaudiere

The fruit for the La Paradou wines are sourced from the Northern Languedoc. While I preferred the Blanc over the Rouge, I liked all when it came to the Terrasses and Quintessence. The Terrasses as whole represent good wine for the price which may be drunk for several years. The 2011 Quintessence Rouge is a lovely follow on to the 2010. Of the Artemia I must agree with Frederic in that the 2011 is great fun to drink.

2012 La Paradou Blanc, Vin de France – $11
This wine is 100% Viognier sourced from chalky limestone soils which was fermented and aged for five months in tank. There was a light, good nose of floral honeysuckle and berries. The flavors followed the nose but were dry at first before taking on a gentle, floral ripeness. There was an expansive midpalate followed by a hint of spices in the aftertaste. Good value.

2012 Terrasses Blanc, Cotes du Ventoux – $15
This wine is a blend of 70% Viognier, 15% Roussanne, and 15% Clairette aged in stainless steel and some concrete. The nose has aromas of lifted berries, pastilles, then tropical flowers. The flavors were riper with a softer entry then clean, lower-lying flavors.

2012 Quintessence Blanc, Cotes du Ventoux – $25
This wine is a blend of 80% Roussanne, 10% Clairette, and 10% Viognier with the Clairette and Viognier aged in stainless steel and the Roussanne aged six months in barrel. The showed more focus and determination, with white nuts, and tighter flavors. Needs some age.

2012 Terrasses Rose, Cotes du Ventoux – $14
This wine is a blend of 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah aged in stainless steel tank. There was a focused nose of floral fruit, red fruit, and flowers. There was a weighty, focused, lovely feel in the mouth with a yeasty touch as the end.

2011 La Paradou Rouge, Vin de France – $11
This wine is 100% Grenache. This had a pungent Grenache nose followed by simpler but decent fruit in the mouth. It was a little rough in the finish.

2012 Terrasses Rouge, Cotes du Ventoux – $16 (Tank Sample)
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 20% Syrah aged six to eight months in 40% new oak. The flavors of red fruit were a touch foxy(good) and filled the mouth with licorice. It has an aspect of lightness combined with a gentle structure. There was a little yeasty expansion in the finish along with lighter, fresher fruit.

2011 Quintessence Rouge, Cotes du Ventoux – $25
This wine is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache aged for 12 months in 50% new oak. The tight was bore fine fruit. The mouth was more expansive with red fruit, good flavor, then black and red fruit with a powerful structure. Then there was perfumed, old-school, red fruit, and a chewy finish. Nice.

2009 Cuvee Artemia, Cotes du Ventoux – $42
This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache aged 18 months in 50% new and 50% neutral oak. The nose stood out with its concentration and different aromas. In the mouth there was depth to the flavors, a traditional style, and perfume. The structure came out but so id really good flavors. Seems young.

2011 Cuvee Artemia, Cotes du Ventoux – $43
This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache aged 18 months in 50% new and 50% neutral oak. There was a light, pungent nose. In the mouth the fruit, acidity, and tannins were immediately evident as balanced. The tannins are finer but the fruit has density to match. There was a powerful finish with a yeast red aftertaste. A nice wine that is young but would be good fun to drink now.

Table #21 – Philippe Cambie

Philippe Cambie

Philippe Cambie

Philippe Cambie’s hand is evident not just in the Rhone and Eric Solomon’s portfolio but all over the world. He has loved wine since at least his rugby days when he enjoyed it after his matches. Mas des Volques is a project of Nicolas Souchon of Clos St Jean. Both the Alba Dolia and Volcae were interesting and well priced. The Alba Dolia represent the first vintage for the new Cevennes appellation. I should like to taste them again. The 2011 Domaine Roche, Cairanne showed good complexity for a young wine. Philippe intends the Calendel to be Burgundian in style and easy to drink, indeed it was.

2012 Mas des Volques, Alba Dolia White, Duche d’Uzes – Cevennes – $20
This wine is a blend of 65% Viognier and 35% Roussane aged in six months in used oak barrels from Burgundy. From a freshly opened bottle the nose preceeds the mouth with good yellow fruit and almonds. Nice. There was verve in the midpalate with mouth filling and tongue coating flavors. Spices and tang came out on the middle of the tongue.

2011 Mas des Volques, Volcae, Duche d’Uzes – $22
This wine is a blend of 35% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 30% Carignan with the Grenache aged in tank and the Syrah and Carignan aged in barrel. The nose stepped out of the glass. There was round fruit in the mouth, garrigue, density, chewy tannins, and good flavor. This will age well. It left impressions of weight and interest.

2011 Domaine Roche, Cotes du Rhone – $16
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 15% Carignan sourced from young vines (40 years) aged for six months in 60% stainless and 40% concrete tanks. The nose showed focus with traditional red fruit. In the mouth the powdery red fruit felt good. The acidity is there despite first being aware of the mouthfeel. This had some powdery lift and structure in the finish.

2011 Domaine Roche, Cairanne – $19
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah from old vines (60 years) aged in 80% concrete tanks and 20% in barrique. There was a less pungent nose. The mouth had more complex flavors which stood on top of the tongue. This was young but serious with a touch of yeast. The dense flavors need time to unfurl.

2011 Calendal, Cotes du Rhone, Plan de Dieu – $30
This wine is a blend of 80% Mourvedre and 20% Grenache sourced from 30-50 year old vines is aged for 12 months in used barrels. There was focused ripe fruit, density, and already seductive in its youth. Lots of flavor, good to drink.

Table #21 – Domaine de la Colliere and Chateau Juvenal

Aline Santoro

Aline Santoro

Philippe Cambie is also the consulting oenologist for these two estates. The Domaine de la Colliere, La Fontaine was good fun and a wine to try again. Chateau Juvenal is a new organic estate with 2011 the first vintage. The La Terre du Petit Homme shows they are off to a good start.

2011 Domaine de la Colliere, Les Touilleres, Rasteau – $18
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% Carignan, and 5% Mourvedre aged in cuve Breton. There was a pungent, Grenache nose. There were similar powdery, coating flavors in the mouth, red fruit. Rasteau firmness with Cambie twist.

2011 Domaine de la Colliere, La Fontaine, Cotes du Rhone Villages Rasteau – $29
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre aged in concrete tank for two winters. There flavors had verve and were lively on the tongue with drying flavors. With a hint of the yeast this lightened up in the finish. There was a powerful end with salty and savory flavors.

2011 Chateau Juvenal, Les Ribes du Vallat, Ventoux – $14
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 25% Syrah sourced from 30-50 year old vines aged nine months on the lees in stainless steel tanks. The nose is more perfumed. In the mouth there was good red fruit, a powdery nature, similar profile, spicy finish, and lots of mouthfeel. There were firm tannins in the powerful aftertaste.

2011 Chateau Juvenal, La Terre du Petit Homme, Ventoux –
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah sourced from 50 year old vines with the Grenache aged on the lees in stainless steel tank and the Syrah aged in new French oak for 12 months. There was a pungent nose. In the mouth there was salty and savory black red fruit which became lifted. I loved the savory aspect of the wine. There were fine tannins to the structure which developed with air. There was black and red fruit in the finish along with salivating acidity.

Table #11 – Tikves Winery

The wines of Tikves have appeared in several of my posts ever since I first tasted them at the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia this past summer. At this point the tasting was coming to an end with wines being boxed up and my palate clearly tired. I decided to quickly taste through the wines to bring awareness to those who have yet tried a wine from the Republic of Macedonia. Philippe Cambie is the consulting oenologist.

2011 Vranec Special Selection, Tikves – $10
This wine is 100% Vranec aged in tank. The fruit is pure with red tang and stands out on the nose. There is good grip in the mouth with tang to the red and black fruit which is noticeable on the tip of the tongue.

2010 Barovo, Tikves – $20
This wine is a blend of 85% Kratosija and 15% Vranec aged 6-8 months in oak barrels. There was light red fruit on the nose along with Kirsch coming through. In the mouth the flavors were pure, showed weight, tartness, and acidity. This was well done with a lighter finish and assured structure.

2011 Barovo, Tikves – $20
This wine is a blend of 85% Kratosija and 15% Vranec aged 6-8 months in oak barrels. This bore dark red flavors. Again the wine was assured with a little salty bit, tight flavors, and in need of some age.

2011 Bela Voda, Tikves – $20
This wine is a blend of 70% Plavec and 30% Vranec aged 6-8 months in oak barrels. This was more fruit driven than the 2011 with more lushness in the mouth. There were light, red fruit and pencil lead notes.


The Compact 2010 Vindemio, Amadeus, Cotes du Ventoux

I had never heard of Vindemio until December when Phil brought in the Cuvee Amadeus.  This biodynamic and organic estate was founded in 2006 by several friends including the former winemaker of Domaine le Murmurium.  In fact the estate was originally Domaine Murmurium.  The vineyards are located at the foot of Mont Ventoux at an altitude of 300 meters.  This is undoubtedly very good Cotes du Ventoux.  Tasted over two nights the wine remained decidedly compact so I think it best to wait six months to one year before trying again when I imagine it will be more open and impressive.  It is not a wine for drinking right now.  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2010 Domaine Vindemio, Amadeus, Cotes du Ventoux – $27
Imported by Eric Solomon.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah sourced from 50-60 year old vines .  It was aged six months on the lees in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 14%.  The color is a medium purple grapey color.  The light nose is somewhat pungent with candied with red fruit.  In the mouth the candied red fruit continues along with dense dark fruit underlying it.  There are very fine ripe, creamy tannins, and rippling power in the finish.  A little cinnamon note comes out with air though the wine itself remains compact.  There is already fine dark sediment.  ***(*) Now-2025.


The Latest From Chateau Pesquie

November 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Mount Ventoux, Image from Chateau Pesquie

Chateau Pesquie is located in Ventoux which is a large appellation at the south-east end of the Rhone region.  The appellation is named after the 2000 meter Mount Ventoux.  The vineyards at Chateau Pesquie experience plenty of dry sunshine, are buffeted by the Mistral, and have cool evenings and winters due to the mountain.

Chateau Pesquie, Image from Chateau Pesquie

Vines have been cultivated at the estate since the Roman times.  The chateau itself with its trees which line the driveway date back to the 1750s.  The modern origins of the winery trace back to the 1970s when Odette and Rene Bastide bought Chateau Pesquie.  They planted new vineyards but also kept some existing parcels.  Today the estate is run by grandchildren Alexandre and Frederic along with their cousin Renaud.  The use only organic, humus-based fertilizers.  They mechanically plow between rows to maintain weeds though one out of two rows is enherbé or grassed.  The majority of harvesting is performed mechanically with their own machine which has an integrated selector.  This allows them to immediately process a mature parcel very early in the morning or late at night when it is cool and dark.  Fermentation typically occurs in stainless steel with a good portion of the wines aged in cement.  They use a combination of indigenous and inoculated yeasts.

The Family, Image from Chateau Pesquie

The last vintage I have tasted from Chateau Pesquie is the 2007 Quintessence.  That was one year ago (you may find my post here).  It was a wine I enjoyed very much thus promptly purchased several more bottles.  The 2011 Terrasses and the 2010 Quintessence showed up at MacArthur Beverages a few weeks ago.  This week we tasted both of these wines over two nights without any Private Preserve. Frédéric states that both the 2010 and 2011 vintages were very good in the Ventoux area.  While they have similar color and concentration the 2010 has a little more tannins.  He finds the 2011 rounder and more enjoyable to drink young with the 2010 having a longer aging potential.

Frédéric and Alexandre, Image from Chateau Pesquie

Terrasses is a blend of various terroirs with soils of mostly limestone but also of clay and sand.  The parcels are on the lower slopes of Mount Ventoux so they are on hillsides of at the foot with some shape.  They lie at altitudes of 250-350 meters.  The vines used for Terrasses are 25 years of age.   The 2011 Terrasses changed a lot of the course of one evening and into the second.  It started off bright, tart, and leaner with a particular enthusiasm but on the second night it had put on flesh and weight as if it had passed through its teenage years.  There is a lot going on, particularly at this price.  It is certainly worth a purchase.  If you try it then double-decant it three hours ahead or better yet, wait a year or two.

Aging Cellar, Image from Chateau Pesquie

The vines used for Quintessence are at similar altitudes as the Terrasses but are 40-50 years old.  Most of the vines around 40 years of age were planted by Odette and Rene with the older vines already in existence.  The lower yield of these vines result in great concentration.  The 2010 Quintessence fools you by making you think you should drink it young.  There are attractive dark, dense flavors with Christmas spices and a savory quality.  But this wine barely budged over two night so I would personally recommend cellaring it for five years.  Many thanks to Frédéric Chaudière for answering my questions and providing the images.  These wines were purchased from MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Chateau Pesquie, Terrasses, Ventoux – $13
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars Selections.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah (with bits of Carignan and Cinsault) sourced hillside vines at 300 meters.  Maceration lasts 15 days followed by aging for one year  in 35% in 2-4 year old oak barrels and tanks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The light nose is of red fruit mixed with herbs and yeasty red fruit.  With air bright and powdery red fruit develops with a textured quality.  In the mouth the wine starts off lighter with tart red fruit mixed with plenty of acidity.  With air the wine puts on weight and fleshes out showing black fruit acidity and integrated tannins.  The flavors are lively on the tongue and there is a little yeasty note.  ***  2014-2019.

2010 Chateau Pesquie, Quintessence, Ventoux – $22
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars Selections.  This wine is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache (40-50 years old) sourced from vines at 230-260 meters on soils of sand and pebbles on clay and limestone.  Maceration lasts three weeks followed by aging for one year in 60% new and 40% one to two-year old oak barrels.  Alcohol 15%.  The color is a medium+ ruby garnet.  The light to medium strength nose bears dense aromas which lurk, waiting for age.  In the mouth this wine is savory with heavy flavors, Christmas spice custard, and soft, dark notes.  This is a bigger wine which starts supple but a chassis-like supporting structure comes out.  Towards the finish it becomes a little inky with some spicy red fruit, rather fine drying tannins, and some warmth in the aftertaste.  ***(*)  Now-2025.

Affordable 2010 Ventoux and Cotes du Rhone Which Will Develop

April 10, 2012 1 comment

These two wines should be in the cellars (or coolers) of anyone who is willing to age wine for the short-term.  Readers of this blog will recognize the La Bastide St. Dominique, Les Argiles Rouge as a wine I recommended for the 2009 and 2007 vintages.  The 2010 vintage is not as forward, showing more structure, so it should definitely be cellared to become more expansive.  The Fondreche, Cuvee Fayard is a brighter wine with good acidity but is somewhat tight with drying tannins so it could use some age for integration.  If you are curious they are certainly drinkable after a few hours of air (and affordable!), though you just might want to eat a piece of meat with them.  Both of these wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Les Argiles Rouge, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone – $15
Imported Simon ‘N’ Cellars.  There is a nose of mixed berries.  In the mouth the focused, ripe fruit has a good, dark vein and develops a beautiful Syrah note after a few hours.  With air the old-school flavors are lovely, showing good weight, structure in the finish, and fine tannins in the aftertaste.  Though drinkable now it really should be cellared for a few years.  **(*) 2015-2020.

2010 Domaine de Fondreche, Cuvee Fayard, Ventoux – $14
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30%  Syrah, 10% Carignan, and 10% Mourvedre.  It was aged for nine months on the lees in tank.  This wine is youthful with grapey, blue and red fruit, orange citrus acidity, and drying tannins which coat the lips.  There are some spices in the aftertaste.  Drunk over two nights it was riper on the first night and tightened up on the second with a drying finish.  **(*) 2014-2018.

The Very Young 2009 Fondreche, Persia

Several years ago Jenn and I drank quite a lot of the 2004 Fondreche, Persia.  Circle Wine sold it at $15-$20 per bottle so not only was it a satisfying drink but was friendly on the wallet.  I happily picked up this bottle last month from the shelves at MacArthur Beverages.  On the first night this wine was unyielding and just not fun to drink so I put some gas in and popped it into the wine fridge.  We went out to dinner the next night so I did not get to taste it again until the third night.  It certainly changed for the better.  There is very strong potential in this wine but it really needs age.  I would recommend buying a few bottles then trying one in five years.

2009 Domaine de Fondreche, Persia, Ventoux – $23
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a blend of 90%  Syrah and 10% Mourvedre with the Syrah sourced from 30-40 year old vines.   It was aged for one year in barriques and demi-muids.  On the third night the nose revealed red fruit and roast earth.  In the mouth there was lovely black fruit and licorice which were flavorful and clean.  The compact flavors were structured and left a coating of fine, perfumed minerality on the lips.  There were very fine tannins with integrated acidity and perhaps a touch of warmth in the aftertaste.   **(*) perhaps **(**) 2017-2025. Find it at Add to Cart.

Two Exciting French Wines

November 14, 2011 3 comments

I occasionally come across wines that are so deeply satisfying and affordably priced that I can hardly contain myself.  This happened twice this so month so I decided to write about them before I managed to catch up with all of my other tasting notes.  I picked up the Santa Duc from the MacArthurs’ dump bin a week or so ago.  I expected a decent drink as it is a good wine from a good vintage.  I did not expect the perfect expression of a Cotes du Rhone beginning to develop complexity.  We both really enjoyed it.  Pleased that it was so tasty but remiss that there was probably no more I emailed Phil.  He quickly responded that it was a closeout and they would be receiving almost 200 cases shortly.  This is a stunning buy and one of the best bottles under $10 that I have drunk in a long time.  Buy it by the case, I know I will.

Yves Gras, Image from Dme Santa Duc

The Chateau Pesquie at two and a half times the price is also a lovely wine from a remarkable producer in Ventoux.  It is similar to the Santa Duc in that it is very satisfying right now but will develop for years to come.  These are lovely wines to drink at home or for a restaurant wanting to surprise customers.

The Santa Duc is imported by Robert Kacher Selections and will be available for $9 at MacArthurs.  The Chateau Pesquie is imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars and was recently available at MacArthurs for $24.

2006 Santa Duc, Les Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone
This is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10 % Mourvedre, and the remaining  10% Cinsault, Cournoise, and Carignan.  The Grenache is sourced from 50-year-old vines.  The wine is aged in vat.  This bottle drank well over two nights.  There were flavors of riper red fruit, Kirsch, and brambly black fruit.  This ripe, mouthfilling wine has stone notes before it turns bluer with black licorice, delivered in a dusty manner before the ripe, textured tannins appear in the finish.  This will be a lovely drink for years to come. *** Now-2017.

2007 Chateau Pesquie, Quintessence, Ventoux
This is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache sourced from old vines, the Grenache vines being over 50 years old.  The wine is aged for 12 months in 60% used and 40% new oak barrels.  The nose is light with gritty fruit.  This savory wine is rich with dark flavors, sweet spices, and delicate red flavors that dance on the tongue.  It is full-bodied with some very fine tannins.  The finish is smooth with some vanilla notes and ripe, powdery tannins. ***(*) Now-2020.