When I chatted with winemaker Christophe Jaume at the winery’s introductory tasting earlier this year, he could scarcely contain his enthusiasm for the 2011 vintage in general, and this 2011 Ventoux in particular. His explained that Les Gelinottes vineyard’s ideal exposure was a unique bonus, due to the extra sun received in late August early September. The additional solar energy pumped up the already ripe, juicy fruit, and helped build a fine structure of soft tannins. Made from 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah planted on clay and sandy soils, this wine offer notes of crushed blackberry, baked blueberry and garrigue, with hints of toast and earth rising at the finish. This fresh, medium-bodied Rhone should be enjoyed now, and over the next 18 months.
What grabbed me was this white wine's luxuriant richness, reminiscent of an Hermitage Blanc, yet still fresh, and totally unoaked. I thought I needed a Chardonnay to make my 12 bottle case, but with this wine, I can get the best of a northern Rhône style, and the voluptuousness of a California Chardonnay, in one neat package.
This intense, full-bodied red is made by the brilliant Châteauneuf du Pape producer Andre Brunel, from family owned vineyards in the village of Tavaillan. The 2011 Côtes du Rhône Villages Cuvée Sabrine, which is made from 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre, has just what it takes to stand up to the rigors of summer BBQ fare. It is loaded with meaty notes of blueberry, blackberry and smoke/tobacco leaf, interlaced with hints of cherry confit, a telltale component of ripe Grenache. With so much forward fruit, it can also be enjoyed lightly chilled on the deck or patio.
Arnoux Père's "White Label" Vacqueyras "Seigneur de Lauris," a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, sees new oak, and offers excellent structure and aging potential.
Located just a few miles from the famous appellation of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the relatively obscure appellation of Lirac can produce wines that are quite similar to that of its illustrious neighbor, at a fraction of the price. The soils are similar to that of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, including, in many vineyards, an ankle-spraining abundance of the potato-size stones called galet, which are considered a key to the quality of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Château de Ségriès, which is owned by a branch of the family that owns Domaine de la Mordorée, a top Chateauneuf-du-Pape producer, provides an excellent example of the quality potential of the Lirac appellation. Made from a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, 5% Mourvèdre, and 5% Carignan, hand harvested from 40 year old vines, the 2010 Château de Ségriès "Cuvée Réservée" offers ripe, vivid flavors of blueberry, raspberry, tobacco leaf and plum, with a firm lashing of ripe tannins at the finish. Although ready to drink now, this wine offers an additional aging potential of 2 to 4 years. -- Ben Giliberti
The dark crimson 2010 Clos de Sixte is a classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape-type blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvèdre, aged for 14 months in 35% new oak barrels. Opens with a warm, ripe, perfumed bouquet of black cherry fruit and wild violets. On the palate, luminously fluid and supple, with bouncy, spicy blackberry and dark fruit notes seasoned by spice. Marvelously detailed finish of subtle minerality and warm, well resolved tannins.