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This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© I had the pleasure of having a conversation and personal wine tasting with my very special international guest Mr. Guy Sarton Du Jonchay of the Rhône Valley in France. Guy was not born into a winemaking family. He was in fact born into a multinational family. However, his parents came from two of the most wine loving countries in the world, his Father from France and his mother from Argentina. Having studied rural economics and sociology at the National School of Agronomy in Montpellier, France, he chose to follow a further course of study abroad in Argentina. This course of study took him to the winemaking country of Argentina, Mendoza. Here he discovered winemaking, which would become a lifelong passion.
Throughout his winemaking career, Guy’s job has led him across the globe to nearly every continent where winemaking can be found. After subsequent degrees in Enology and Viticulture, Guy made wine in the Haut-Médoc, the Languedoc and other French appellations, with Michel Torino and Viña Undurraga in Chile and Argentina and with Rosemount Estate in Australia. He has even provided expertise in a venture to produce wine in the Miyun district in China.
From 1995 until 2002 Guy worked for Barton & Guestier as the Senior Winemaker. His duties there included the design of fermentation caves as well as the installation of automated hydraulic grape presses and a streamlined bottling system. He also implemented a state of the art tracking system that enables Barton & Guestier to follow its wines from vineyard to bottle, ensuring the highest quality standards.
Guy now brings all of his significant experience and talent to the winery of Vidal-Fleury, where he is Head Winemaker and Managing Director. He is in charge of the 80,000 cases produced there annually. With his background in international winemaking, Guy is sure to bring new best practices as well as fresh ideas to the superlative wines that are produced at Vidal-Fleury.
As I have mentioned during a previous show what you experience in a well made bottle of wine is not only wonderful wine but this wine is a direct expression of the personality of the winemaker. You quite literally are drinking their personality; think about that the next time you enjoy a great glass of wine. It is certainly something to ponder.
The other thing I want to point out about Guy is his track record. This man is a very special person in the world of wine. Every where he has been and everywhere he goes he elevates wine properties in terms of the wines they produce and the systems and processes he integrates. Guy is a true Renaissance man; he has the unique ability to preserve the incredible Old World wine making technique while employing new methods of process and systems of wine production. This allows these renowned properties to remain viable in today’s so very competitive wine market. I raise my glass to toast Guy and my friends W. J. Deutsch & Sons who import Guy’s wonderful Vidal-Fleury Wines.
Vidal-Fleury in the Rhone
J. Vidal-Fleury was founded in 1781 making it the Rhône Valley’s oldest, continuously operating winery, grower and negociant. Since the beginning Vidal-Fleury has strived to produce a high quality range of wines which show individuality and the typicity of the different Rhone appellations. In the 1980’s Vidal-Fleury as purchased by the Guigal family whom produce amazing wines.
The Rhone Valley is one of France’s most important wine growing regions covering a long strip of land from Avignon in the south to Vienne in the north. This area produces more appellation wine than any other part of France, except that of the Bordeaux region. This very diverse region is split into two sections. The north which is a semi-continental environment is dominated by the Syrah grape and prestigious appellations which include Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage and St Joseph. The south has a Mediterranean climate and produces mainly blended wines from varieties such as Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan.
Red wines and selected whites are matured in oak casks; a proportion of wines are matured in new oak. This restrained and selective use of oak ensures that the wines are supported and complemented by oak maturation but never dominated. Vidal-Fleury under Guy’s direction has recently completed a major project creating a new cellaring system which provides the company optimum conditions for aging, bottling, storing, and shipping wine.
Now let’s get to the important part of this story, the wine, the wine, the wine. It was a real honor for me to sit down and have a conversation with Guy, but what a pleasure to have a personal wine tasting lead by Guy himself. It really doesn’t get any better than that I must tell you.
Let’s start with the 2009 Côtes-du- Rhône Blanc which is from the Southern Rhône. This white wine is 100% Viognier which is one of my favorite varietal types. This beautiful example of Viognier fermented and aged in stainless steel which preserves the true bright fruit and crispness in this wine. This vintage was a very warm one in the Southern Rhône which presents certain challenges in the wine making process. Viognier is a very dry, delicate wine with floral aromas and apricot overtones. This wine from Vidal-Fluery does not disappoint, it visually presents as a nice gold color in the glass with a mild nose of fruit, subtle citrus, and beautifully floral. Once this wine hits your palate you will enjoy a nice full, lush mouthfeel. This wine is medium dry with nice balance of fruit and acid. It has great flavor of fruit, a little tropical fruit, a nuance of almond and a beautiful finish. This wine has an impression of subtle sweetness, honey, which comes from this wine being aged on lees. I really enjoyed this wine and recommend it with chicken dishes, a white fish dish, or a Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese.
The next wine that I tasted was the 2007 Côtes-du-Rhône rouge and I love red blends from the Rhône. This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre. This is a very typical blend from the Southern Rhône. The Vidal-Fleury wines all express nice terrior which is what great winemakers strive for. With this blend being predominantly Grenache will get a lot of aroma and flavor of red berries which this wine defiantly delivers. It is very pleasant on the nose with mild smoke, and earth which really speaks to an aspect of the terrior of this beautiful garnet colored wine. On the palate this wine is a nice balance of fruit and acid with really solid structure. This wine expresses a subtle chocolate which is great with the beautiful red berry quality of this wine. You’ll also get some nice white pepper and a little black cherry from this wine. This is a very enjoyable example of a red blend from a well done Southern Rhône blend. This is a wine you will want to try and will really like, there is very good value in this wine. I recommend you try this with grilled red meat, terrific with duck, or one of my favorite cheeses the Smoked Blue from the Rogue Valley Creamery.
Last but not least is the gem from the Northern Rhône Saint Joseph appellation, 2007 Côtes-du-Rhône Saint Joseph . This Vidal-Fleury selection was the stand out wine for me going through the tasting with Guy. This region in the Northern Rhône is a Semi-Continental environment which means it is very hot in the day and very cool at night thus perfect growing conditions for the Syrah grape which is all that is allowed to be produced in the Northern Rhône. The nose of this wine is amazing, smoke, earth, dust, dirt, and the best of all BACON, yes I said bacon. Great wines from France as Guy explained to me are a result of two things and they are grapes and time. It made me think of the late Jim Croce and his famous song, “Time In A Bottle”. As great as this wine is on the nose watch out because it is fabulous in the mouth. Beautiful tannin and great full, lush, nutty, spicy, with nice minerality. Guy delivers huge with this fine selection from Vidal-Fleury and did I mention the nice acidity in this wine. Wow you have to try this beautifully made with, this is terrior in your glass and I like to think of this particular wine selection as a real expression of my friend Guy’s personality and I believe it does just that. This wine has it all, great value, great wine to enjoy with red meat, pizza, pork, or the Oregon Blue Cheese from the Rogue Valley Creamery that is is aged in Syrah soaked grape leaves. I recommend this wine, you’re going to love it.
Today’s wine selections from Vidal-Fleury and distributed by our friends at W. J. Deutsch & Sons receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval®. Thanks for joining Mr. Guy Sarton Du Jonchay and WineGuyMike™ this Sunday morning.