Showing posts with label clairette. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clairette. Show all posts

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  • Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Rhône Wine Tour 2018 - Luberon and Ventoux (Day 1)



Domaine des Peyre (Luberon)
I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the southern Rhône Valley in May to focus on the brilliant white and rosé wines from the region. It was a 4-day trip with visits to wineries and meet with winemakers in Luberon, Ventoux, Cairanne, Costières de Nîmes, Lirac and Tavel AOCs.

After arriving at Marseille Provence Airport, we travelled about 1 hour north to Domaine des Peyre, a boutique winery and hotel in the Luberon AOC where we would be spending the night. Since Craig Pinhey and I had some time to relax while we waited for Daenna Van Mulligen to arrive before heading out for dinner, we tasted a few delicious wines while sitting and chatting on the patio, all the while observing our peaceful surroundings. We learned that some parts of this historic building were built in the 16th century. There was also a church (which was to host a wedding in a few days) that was originally built in the 9th century.

Domaine des Peyre (Luberon)

Anne Georget was our first guide for this trip, and she took us to dinner at La Bergerie, a casual-fine dining restaurant located on the hill village of Bonnieux that had an amazing view overlooking the valley below. The food was delicious, as we enjoyed some wine on the outdoor patio with truffle pizza (yes, I had truffles for the first time, and it wasn't too bad). It got a bit chilly, so we moved indoors and sat near the kitchen which had an open flame that was used for cooking meats and various other dishes, but also provided some much needed heat to warm the room. I opted for the delicious roasted chicken and capped my meal with a chocolate mousse. It was a great way to end the day, as we had a long (and busy) week ahead of us.

La BergerieLa Bergerie

Our covered the Luberon and Ventoux AOCs. The first stop was actually not too far from the restaurant we dined at the night before. Château la Canorgue is a family-owned and -operated winery in Luberon that is led by the father-daughter team of Jean-Pierre Margan and his daughter Nathalie. The family has been producing wine at this domain for 5 generations on a fascinating site that was built upon the remains of an ancient Roman villa. Château la Canorgue takes its name from the many ancient underground aqua tunnels that cross below the vineyards - we got to see one of these amazing water channels. Nine days prior to our visit, the winery experienced a very localized, disastrous 15-minute hail storm that left nearly 30 cm of ice/snow on the ground. However, it had completely melted by the time we arrived, leaving behind severely damaged vines that Nathalie said will likely need a couple of years to recover. Approximately 80% of their crop was lost due to this freak storm.

Château la Canorgue - Nathalie and Jean-Pierre MarganChâteau la Canorgue Vineyard

Château la Canorgue - Winemaking FacilityChâteau la Canorgue - Tank Room

After a brief walk among the vines, Nathalie took us inside their gravity-flow production facility that was added to their 17th century cellar which was once a silk factory at one point in its history. Château la Canorgue was the very first organic winery in the Luberon and has been producing wines using organic methods, and a few Biodynamic principles, since the 1970's. After tasting through some fine tank samples, we moved into the tasting room to try some of their latest whites and rosé wines. The domain's 40 hectares, most of which are terraced, are planted to traditional regional varietals with 25% of their production devoted to white wines, and 25% to rosés. Grapes for these wines are typically machine-harvested from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m., to keep the grapes cool and allowing for better control over the fermentation process. Vines average 40 years old, with some plots at 80 years old, and some even older at 100 years old. Tasting notes of a couple of my favourites wines tasted here and elsewhere on this day are provided below.

The second stop was Domaine de la Citadelle, a winery founded in 1990 by short-film producer Yves Rousset-Rouard when he purchased a old farmhouse with 8 ha of vines. It is located on the northern slope of Luberon, 35 km east of Avignon and the mouth of the Rhône and Durance rivers. Today, there are 50 ha of vines planted on mostly clay and limestone soils, along with some alluvial marl, griess, and gravel. Since it had been raining, we did not take a walk through the vineyards and proceeded directly to the upper level overlooking the production facility. Like the first winery, they also have a gravity-fed vinification process to gently move the wine through the various stages. It also recently became certified organic in 2016 and use horses to work the soil. 50% of their production is devoted to white (30%) and rosé (20%) wines. The three main ranges of wines in their portfolio are terroir-driven - La Châtaignier from sandy marl soils, the middle-tier Les Artèmes which come from primarily gravel and sandstone soils, and the higher-end Le Gouverneur range which come from their best terroirs and oldest vines. 2017 was a tough vintage due to a severe frost that affected nearly 15 ha of vines, followed by a very long drought with no rain for 6 months. Even with yields practically halved, the wines expressed their terroir with freshness and balance.

Domaine de la Citadelle - TanksDomaine de la Citadelle Rosé Wines

Domaine de la Citadelle White WinesDomaine de la Citadelle - Barrel Room

Lunch was at La Maison de la Truffe & du Vin, a fine-dining establishment that included truffle in each of their dishes. It was located in the Luberon mountains, in the hilltop village of Ménerbes overlooking the valley below. Considering that I had my first truffle the night before (and survived), I was less nervous about having truffles with each course. We enjoyed lunch with two wine producers, which definitely helped calm my nerves regarding the truffles.

Joining us for lunch was Winemaker Sylvain Morey from La Bastide du Claux, and Sabrina Fillod, Export Marketing Manager at Marrenon. Each winery brought four delicious wines to taste.

Sylvain Morey's roots are in Burgundy as he is a descendant of (Domaine) Albert Morey. He began La Bastide du Claux in 2002 to bring his Burgundian vision and winemaking craft to the rising Luberon AOC. Sylvain has a fragmented 15 ha vineyard that offers a rich combination of soils, climates and exposures, and tries to highlight its characteristics. Approximately one-third of all wines produced in Luberon are rosés. One of the interesting points that Sylvain mentioned was the fact that even though Luberon is part of the historical region of Provence, with similar terroir, they are not part of Provence AOC and, thus, cannot put "Provence" on the label. Given that rosé wines from Provence carry some weight and prestige, wineries in Luberon are at a somewhat disadvantage. Perhaps one day we will see the rules changed, but in the meantime we shall continue enjoying lovely the wines of Luberon, which are part of the Rhône AOC, and offer great value!

Sylvain Morey, La Bastide du ClauxMarrenon, Sabrina Fillod

Marrenon is a large cooperative consisting of 7 wineries and 650 winegrowers that was created in 1965. All 4,200 hectares of vineyards are based in the heart of a Regional Natural Park which is recognized as a natural biosphere reserve by UNESCO, and spread out along the mountain ranges of Luberon and Ventoux, ranging in altitude from 150 to 500 metres. With vineyards located in the South East Rhône Valley and in Provence, 50% of their production is devoted to rosé wines and 20% to white wines. They were also the first producer to grow Vermentino (Rolle) in France. They are committed to the environment and sustainability, and all of the work is controlled and approved by Agri-Confiance Certification which, among other things, includes respecting nature and environment, fair income for the producers, and vine-to-glass traceability. There are 3 ranges of wines - Classique, Altitude, and Exclusive Single Estate wines. All of the wines we tasted during lunch were from their Single Estate line, and were delicious!

La Maison de la Truffe & du Vin

After lunch, we visited Domaine de Fondrèche, a family-owned winery that was founded by Nanou Barthelémy when she purchased the property in 1993. Her son, Sébastien Vincenti, joined the business a few years later after spending some time in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They have 38 ha of organically cultivated vineyards, 10 ha of which are dedicated to producing terroir-driven rosé wines from sandy soils and white wines from clay and limestone soils. As Sébastien took us through the wines and gave us a tour of the winery, it was obvious that he was very passionate about wine and the winemaking process. The winery was built to favour the use of gravity, including having the press sit a few metres above ground, thus allowing the juice to escape through a hole at the bottom of the press with the assistance of gravity. It is interesting to note that Sébastien does not use any sulphites during pressing. Domaine de Fondrèche produces three lines of wines, and I was most impressed with their middle-tier Persia line that come from their older vines.

Sébastien Vincenti, Domaine de Fondrèche

Domaine de Fondrèche - Concrete Eggs and Oak BarrelsDomaine de Fondrèche

The final stop of the day was at Château Pesquié, an estate winery owned by a family that is passionate about the Ventoux region and recognized its potential. Odette & René Bastide purchased the property that is located at the foot of the Ventoux Mountain in the early 1970's and became pioneers of AOC Côtes du Ventoux. Even though vines had been cultivated in this region for more than a thousand years, the AOC was only created in 1973. In the mid-1980's, their daughter Edith and her husband Paul Chaudière joined the business. In 1989, the family stopped selling their grapes to the local cooperative and formed their own cellars. In 2003, Paul and Edith's two sons, Alexandre and Frédéric, took over the Domaine and continue the family tradition of producing terrific wines that harness the outstanding Ventoux terroir. We had the pleasure of meeting Alexandre, who through three generations of winemakers in the family have always tried to be agriculturally sustainable and responsible, mentioned that they hope to be certified biodynamic in 2019. Château Pesquié has one of the coolest micro-climates in the south of the Rhône Valley, thanks to slightly higher elevations and mountain influence, while also having great mineral diversity, but predominantly limestone. They have a fabulous visitor centre with impressive displays showcasing their terroir, among other things. The wines are also tasty! Château Pesquié is definitely a place to visit if you're in the area.

Château Pesquié

Château Pesquié

The evening was capped off with a gourmet dinner and a quiet night at the lovely Château de Mazan Hotel that is housed in an 18th century mansion located in the centre of the town of Mazan, nestled at the foot of Mont Ventoux.

Château de MazanChâteau Unang Ventoux Blanc 2017

Château de MazanChâteau de Mazan

This post is just the first in the series. A visit to the Cairanne AOC is next on the itinerary, and reviews from my trip to the other Rhône AOCs will be posted in the coming days.

Tasting Notes:

Domaine des Peyre Paparazzi 2017 (87 pts)

DOMAINE DES PEYRE PAPARAZZI 2017 - AP Ventoux, Rhône, France (XD) - 11.5 €
Mostly Grenache, with Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre completing the blend. Medium+ intensity nose is fresh with herbal, garrigue, stone fruit and peach aromas. Medium-bodied palate is delicate with herbally and stone fruit flavours, and a vague impression of sweetness. Clean and balanced, some saline mid-palate. Very good finish length. Score: 87 pts

Agent: DB Wine & Spirits (ON)

CHÂTEAU LA CANORGUE LUBERON ROSÉ 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (XD) - 9.50 €
Majority Grenache, with Syrah and Mourvèdre completing the blend. Medium+ intensity nose has herbally, raspberry, and currant aromas. Red berry flavours of raspberry, red currant and strawberry on the medium-bodied, dry palate lifted by fresh acidity. Fine, crisp finish. Score: 88 pts

Château la Canorgue Luberon Rosé 2017 (88 pts)Château la Canorgue Luberon Blanc 2017 (90 pts)

CHÂTEAU LA CANORGUE LUBERON BLANC 2017 - AC, Rhône, France (XD) - 10.50 €
Co-fermented and equal parts Roussanne, Marsanne, Clairette, Grenache, Bourbeblanc, and Vermentino. Lovely citrus and exotic fruits with plenty of minerality on the nose and flavour profile. The medium+ bodied palate is structured and has a creamy texture with a nice mineral, mid-palate supported by fresh acids. Nicely balanced overall, dry. Floral and fruit on the long finish. Score: 90 pts

Agent: N/A

DOMAINE DE LA CITADELLE LES ATÈRMES ROSÉ 2017 - AOP Luberon, Rhône, France (XD) - 12 €
Vines located 300 m above sea level. 80% Mourvèdre. Subtle raspberry, earth, and mineral aromas. Medium-bodied with crisp acids, rounded mouthfeel and nice aroma replays in a dry style. Structured, spicy, nice clean finish. Enjoy over the next 3-4 years. Score: 88+ pts

Domaine de la Citadelle Les Atèrmes Rosé 2017 (88+ pts)Domaine de la Citadelle Le Châtaignier Blanc 2017 (88+ pts)

DOMAINE DE LA CITADELLE LE CHÂTAIGNIER BLANC 2017 - AOP Luberon, Rhône, France (XD) - 8.50 €
Blend of Clairette, Grenache Blanc, and Marsanne. Subtle stony mineral and herbal aromas continue on the medium-bodied palate, joined by some lemon/lime flavours. Clean acids offer a crisp mouthfeel. Very good length on the fresh finish. Score: 88+ pts

Agent: Balthazard (QC)

BASTIDE DU CLAUX L'ODALISQUE 2016 - AOC Luberon, Rhône, France (XD)
40% Grenache Blanc blended with equal parts Vermentino and Viognier, all spending some time in oak barrels. Medium-high intensity nose with stone fruit and lemon oil notes. It's medium+ bodied on the smoky, structured palate with lemony acids and flavours. Buttery, baked apple notes linger on the long finish. Score: 89 pts

Bastide du Claux l'Odalisque 2016 (89 pts)Bastide du Claux Barraban 2009 (91 pts)

BASTIDE DU CLAUX BARRABAN 2009 - AOC Luberon, Rhône, France (XD)
40% Grenache Blanc, the rest equal parts Vermentino, Clairette, and Ugni Blanc. Pours a deep gold colour, this has medium-high intensity waxy, lanolin, floral, and herbally aromas, all which comes through nicely on the medium-bodied, dry, spicy palate. Nicely textured with balanced acidity. Drinking well now, but could age another 5-7 years. Score: 91 pts

Agent: N/A

MARRENON PETULA 2017 - AOC Luberon, Rhône, France (XD)
Syrah and Grenache Noir. Pretty raspberry, strawberry aromas are open and fragrant with fine minerality. It's medium-bodied, crisp, and clean on the subtly spicy palate with nice, balanced acids and herbally aroma replays. Long with some structure on the finish. Score: 89 pts

Marrenon Petula 2017 (89 pts)Marrenon Grand Marrenon Blanc 2017 (90 pts)

MARRENON GRAND MARRENON BLANC 2017 - AOC Luberon, Rhône, France (XD)
Equal parts Grenache Blanc and Vermentino, and 10% Roussanne. Elegant, medium-high intensity nose shows finesse with ripe, balanced yellow fruit, white flowers, mineral and barrel-aged oak nuances. It's light-to-medium bodied on the nicely balanced palate with pleasing aroma replays supported by vibrant acids. Clean lime and mineral notes, touch bitter on the long finish. Score: 90 pts

Agent: Von Terra (ON)

DOMAINE DE FONDRÈCHE PERSIA ROSÉ 2017 - AOP Ventoux, Rhône, France (XD) - 20 €
Half Mourvèdre, the rest equal parts Grenache and Syrah. Medium-intensity nose has herbally, spicy, currant, floral, and raspberry aromas. Juicy, fresh acids support the medium-bodied, spiced palate with curranty aroma replays. Spiced finish with very good length. Score: 88 pts

Domaine de Fondrèche Persia Rosé 2017 (88 pts)Domaine de Fondrèche Persia Blanc 2017 (89 pts)

DOMAINE DE FONDRÈCHE PERSIA BLANC 2017 - AOP Ventoux, Rhône, France (XD) - 20 €
Roussanne from 30-40 year old vines, the nose is reserved with lime citrus and herbs, and hints of hay and white stone fruit. The medium-bodied palate is ripe, rounded with very good acidity. White peach, melon, and some herbal, fennel flavours. Nicely textured on the mid-palate through to the finish, with very good length. Score: 89 pts

Agent: Sens.i (QC)

CHÂTEAU PESQUIÉ TERRASSES ROSÉ 2017 - AOP Ventoux, Rhône, France (XD) - 11 €
50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah. Shy nose has raspberry, red berry and citrus aromas. Structured, medium-bodied palate has more raspberry and citrus notes with hints of floral. Fresh, juicy acids support the crunchy fruit. Clean, lemony notes on the long finish. Score: 88 pts

Château Pesquié Terrasses Rosé 2017 (88 pts)Château Pesquié Quintessence Blanc 2016 (89 pts)

CHÂTEAU PESQUIÉ QUINTESSENCE BLANC 2016 - AOC Ventoux, Rhône, France (XD) - 16 €
Blend of 80% Roussanne (barrel-fermented) and 20% Clairette, with trace amounts of Viognier, and then blended and aged in concrete tanks. Subtle aromas offer wood-influenced herbal, white peach, and hints of citrus, all which come through on the medium-bodied palate. Fresh, balanced acids provide lift. Nicely textured with crunchy fruit, and very good length on the finish. Score: 89 pts

Agent: The Vine Agency (ON), Sélections Oeno (QC)


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