Cotes du Ventoux, “Rhone done Right” with WineGuyMike™, and Domaine De Fondreche

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The Cotes du Ventoux is a great place to take a bicycle ride and a great place to think about the next time you want to venture out and try a wine that is different than what you normally drink. Mont Ventoux is visited annually by a peloton of bike riders in a race known as the Tour de France, a race near and dear to my heart, a race that I can’t wait to watch every year. Yes I am a bike rider and commuter so I find myself jonesin’ for the Tour every year. Let me share a little secret with you, the two wine I’m going to share with you today will have the same effect on you as the Tour de France has on me. These two wines are so good they are just downright wicked. That’s right they are that good and that interesting, so are a couple of people that I going to tell you about as well.

Let’s start by talking about the place, Cotes du Ventoux a region in the Rhone Valley in southeastern France. The Rhone Valley is home to very rocky soils that collect heat from the abundant sunshine that is common in the Rhone. The rocky soils thus stay warm at night, the vines in the southern Rhone love this. The southern Rhone receives 30% more sunshine hours per year than the regions of Bordeaux or Burgundy. The wines of the southern Rhone are vastly different then wine produced in northern Rhone.  The reason for this is the soil, location, and the grapes that are allowed to be used by the AOC, the French governing body that oversees winemaking in France.

The two main red grapes grown in the Rhone are Syrah and Grenache.  Syrah is a grape that is a big powerful full bodied red that is supple, smooth, and rich with well mannered mellow tannins.  Flavor wise a Syrah can be slightly spicy, fruity like black cherries, or some may have a deep nutty flavoring.  Grenache is a grape that is famous for use as a blending grape in both France and Spain. Grenache is also full bodied with berry flavors.  It lends itself well to nice full reds or roses that produce fruity or berry like flavor.  I’m also going to mention Mourvedre which is used in both wines that I’m sharing with you today.  Spain loves this grape and its popularity is on the rise as a varietal produced wine in that country.  Fruity with berry flavor and tannins that are strong give this grape a strong supporting roll with the wines we are talking about today.

Wines from France are numerous and confusing to most and my focus on the WineGuyMike™ radio show and my accompanying blog post each week is to demystify wine.  One piece of information that I always look for on my bottle of French wine is the producer.  Why is this important? In France and in the many regions of France wines are not always estate produced and bottled, many times grapes are purchased by suppliers and exporters and the wine is then made by their respective winemakers under the stringent French winemaking laws.  So the focus is to know the suppliers and exporters as you wouldn’t know the winemaker(s) in many cases.

Robert Kacher Selections

Robert Kacher Selections

Now it’s time to talk about Bobby Kacher.  When you see imported by Robert Kacher Selections I promise you these wines at all price points are going to be very good wines, that is all Bobby deals with.  Bobby has been in this business for decades and has been in it with dogged determination and tenacity, in other words this man has passion for wine.  He bleeds red wine that’s just how committed to you the consumer he is.  He is only a handful of importers to ever receive the prestigious honor of Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole.  Bobby has very personal relationships with every wine producer whose wine he imports.  Not only that he interacts with every aspect of the grape growing all the way through the winemaking process.  This truly speaks to the level of respect he has garnered over decades by winery owners and winemakers of the wines he imports from France, not many people ever get to interact in this way or at this level in the vineyards of France as you can perhaps imagine.

Bobby’s focus on wine is typically estate-grown wines that exude authenticity, earthiness, and suit the individual lifestyles, cuisines and palates of American wine drinkers.  Recently Robert Parker, a well known wine expert named Bobby as “one of the 20 most influential wine personalities of the past 20 years,” and I agree.

Now I would like to introduce you to the wine, the winemaker, and his piece of terrior in the southern Rhone Valley.  This winery the Domaine De Fondreche is located in the Ventoux at the base of Mont Ventoux.  Because of its location the grapes receive a lot of sun and heat and to balance that the vineyards have a constant breeze that allows the grapes not to get scorched by the sun.  The grapes come from two different vineyards, one that is comprised of clay and limestone gravel.  The second vineyard has soils made up of sand and silt which produce wines of finesse, freshness with moderate alcohol levels. The alluvial soil matter from the ancient dice and stony surface-textured, and sandy clay soils that are situated on this plateau where air currents and high temperatures occur allow the grapes from these two vineyards to flourish and produce wines of amazing quality.

Sebastien Vincenti is the winemaker who produced these two incredible wines, Domaine De Fondreche Nadal and Persia.  Sebastien worked for Andre Brunel in the famed Chateauneuf-du-pape region which is where Bobby Kacher discovered him.  Sebastien is a young upstart winemaker that is intensely devoted to land, grape, and winemaking.  This viticulturist and winemaker cares about this process in a way that sets him apart from many that farm and practice the craft of winemaking.  This is his passion and if Bobby Kacher has red wine in his veins, Sebastien bleeds wine and dirt from his.  The grapes that Domaine De Fondreche produces are organically and bio-dynamically grown and produced. These wines are made in a way that you instantly understand that they are not overdone, not underdone, not over manipulated, they actually approach perfection.  Sebastien has let the process take care of itself through employing farming and winemaking techniques that smack of incredible hands off approach.  But boy you understand completely that this is all about love of land and love of his craft.  Sebastien I applaud you in your efforts, these wines are simple, elegant, and adventurous.  Really can it get any better?  Not so much for me, these wines absolutely leave me wanting and needing more.  Thank you Bobby and Sebastien!

On to the wines:

Domaine De Fonreche "Persia"

Domaine De Fonreche "Persia"

“Persia” is a wine made from 30-40 year-old Syrah vines with a splash of Mourvèdre.  The wine is aged completely in barrels, varying from 300 liters to 228 liters.  Persia requires 2-3 years aging from its release and can be kept for more than a decade.  The wine is inky and displays brawny black fruit and earth with tremendous depth, complexity and length.  Only about 800 cases are ever made.  This wine is a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre, this is an absolutely stunning wine.  The nose of this wine is big and so very interesting, it hits you right up front with smoke, earth, wodd, bacon, and a dry beef jerky.  then this wine transitions to  the palate  and you experience  beautifully defined wine with silky smooth tannins, touches of raspberry, liquorices, blackberry and minerals; the finish is delightful, elegant, and long.  This wine fills the mouth like no other; it will absolutely rock your world.

Domaine De Fondreche "Nadal"

Domaine De Fondreche "Nadal"

The cuvée Nadal is a wine produced from equal parts old vine Syrah and Grenache.  The Syrah finishes alcoholic fermentation and goes through malolactic fermentation in 300 liter casks, while the Grenache is finished in tank.  Nadal requires 1-2 years aging from its release and can be kept for more than a decade.  This wine is inky and displays fresh and juicy red fruits with tremendous depth, complexity and length.

The 2005 was a great vintage from the Rhone and is one of the best I have ever tasted from  Domaine De Fondreche.  The 2005 Nadal is comprised of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre, all from vines that are over 70 years old.  The nose of this wine initially produces an aroma of smoke and dust which is wonderful and then once it immerses on the palate the Nadel exhibits nuances of kirsch, licorice, and black raspberries, and subtly displays an bouguet of early spring floral notes.   The wine is purple in color and appears very dense to the eye.  This wine has been aged in small oak barrels but typical of well made French wine does not taste nor have aromas from the wood, it is its own juice crafted by the amazing Sebastien Vincenti.  The Nadal has a great balance of fruit and acid and will drink well for the next 5 years.

I highly recommend these wines, they are a must try.  Even if these wines fall within a weekend special occasion category price wise you need to taste them.  If it’s not a special occasion it will be once you taste these two gems.

Both of these wines overwhelmingly receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval®

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"


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