WSET Alumni

Southern Rhône and its producers

Southern Rhône and its producers

September’s monthly meeting of the EDW Wine Club was certainly another fun and informative evening.

We had the opportunity to hear more from Erica and Sara about their trip around the Rhône. Erica and Sara had enjoyed spending time this summer touring around the Rhône, meeting producers and sampling their wines. With so much to share with us they decided to cover the Northern and Southern Rhône over two monthly meetings. This month we heard about their Southern Rhône leg.

Domaine MurMurIum, Ventoux AC

MurMurIum 2014 Roussanne

Our first two producers’ wines are organic.

The first winery we learnt about was Domaine MurMurIum of the Ventoux AC. The name of the winery comes from the Latin, and means, “the humming song of the bees”. This fits the philosophy of the founder Marc Pichon as the vineyard does not use chemicals or pesticides and treats the vines and soils manually. Sadly Marc passed away but his winemaker remains and his sister Veronique, along with Marc’s widow Anne, are continuing to follow his beliefs. They are, as Marc was, determination to produce outstanding wines with minimum interference, always with a slightly quirky touch.

Domaine MurMurIum

We tasted two wines from MurMurIum. The first wine entirely from the Vermentino grape. Named after Marc’s wife ‘Cuvee Anne Pichon Sauvage’ Vaucluse IGP, the wine was made in a fresh, citrus and green fruit style. Made only in stainless-steel with five months on the lees to retain freshness. This 2017 wine was refreshing and tasty now, but Erica told us that it can age for a few years to develop waxy, honied characters. The second wine is 100 per cent Roussanne. The wine was fermented at a low temperature in new oak followed by 12 months on the lees. Due to its age, a 2014 vintage wine, in addition to its ripe fruit and oak characters, the wine showed pronounced honey, nutty and dried fruit flavours. Both wines were very different in style and we all agreed that the Roussanne was of outstanding quality. Erica also assured us it was stunning with fresh goat’s cheese. The whole range of MurMurIum’s wines are available here.

Chateau Unang

Remaining in the Ventoux region, Sara then talked us through Chateau Unang owned by Scottish couple James and Joanne King since 2003. James is the winemaker at this unique Domaine and Joanna runs the marketing. The Chateau sits deep in the tail end of the Nesque Valley and is an isolated, self-contained Domaine, with rarely found ‘les sables d’Unang’, sandy soil over limestone.

Erica presented two wines to our group from this Domaine, ‘La Source’ Ventoux 2016 and ‘La Croix’ Ventoux 2015.  ‘La Source’ Ventoux, a blend of 50% Syrah, 45% Grenache and 5% Cinsault, showed concentrated fruit flavours and aromas topped off with coffee, black pepper and chocolate. ‘La Croix’ Ventoux, a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache, showed very pronounced savoury and black cherry aromas and flavours. At £12.50 and £18.00 respectively, two extremely good value for money wines, available here.

Domaine Roger Perrin

Continuing our theme of Rhône producers ‘caring for the environment’, our next producer, Roger Perrin, favours agriculture rainsonnée, with herbicides and pesticides banned and as much of the vineyards treated with natural processes including lots of manual work rather than machines. Vineyards have existed on the Roger Perrin property between Orange and Chateauneuf-du-Pape since the beginning of the 1900s. In 1969 when the Domaine was taken over by Roger Perrin, from his father-in-law, estate bottling began. The Domaine is still family owned and run, despite some family tragedies along the way.

We tasted two wines from Domaine Roger Perrin, the Cote-du-Rhône Villages ‘Vielles Vignes’ 2015 and the Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015.  The Cote-du-Rhône Villages is made from a blend of 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre. The 65 year old vines are hand harvested. After fermentation the wine is then aged for 15 months in cement and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. The Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 65% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 5% Cinsault and Clairette. It is aged for 15 months in a combination of stainless-steel tanks, foudres and new oak barrels. Our group decided that both wines from Domaine Roger Perrin, although different, were of very good quality and showing very good typicity and value. Available in the UK here.

Domaine Fontavin

Domaine Fontavin

Domaine Fontavin

Sara then introduced us to our next Rhône producer, Domaine Fontavin, a family estate that dates back over seven generations and consists of 45 hectares in eight communes. The conversion to organic farming in 2008 reflects winemaker Hélène Chouvet Coton’s humanist vision of the vine and the grape. According to Hélène organic farming is not just a concept, it is a way of life. Hélène creates wines that she feels reflect her character, wines of liberty and truth that she ‘raises like her children’, The gwith wisdom, patience and love.

Erica presented one of Hélène’s wines to the group, 2014 ‘Cuvée Combe Sauvage’ Gigondas, 75% Grenache is the leading grape in this blend with 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah, 3% Cinsault and 2% Clairette rosé making up the rest. The average age of the vines is 60 years. The grapes are hand harvested, fully destemmed and indigenous yeast is use for fermentation is practiced. This delicious wine is available in the UK through The General Wine Co.

 

Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Erica Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Domaine Roger Sabon

Our final producer from the Southern Rhône Domaine Roger Sabon an 18-hectare estate in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, spread over 14 different plots. The vines are a minimum of 50 years old; with the vines used to produce fruit for their ‘Cuvee Prestige’ being 90 years old. The Domaine’s objective for the red wines is to find the best balance, according to the vintage, between the structure of the wine (tannins), the natural freshness (acidity) and the mouthfeel.

Our final wine of the evening was Domaine Roger Sabon’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘Prestige’ 2015. 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre and 5% Counnoise and Vaccarese. The grapes are hand harvested and spend one month on the skins ensures that maximum colour and ripe tannins are extracted. With 18 months of ageing, the first six months were in concrete or stainless-steel tanks to remove the coarsest lees, then a further 12 months in oak. For most of the group this was the star of the evening. Despite its youth it was very drinkable now but also showing its huge potential for long ageing. We want to keep this wine all to ourselves but will allow readers that insider information (not really) where to buy.

Our journey complete, we departed ready and excited for October’s Club event on Sherry and food tasting!

To find out more about the EDW Wine Club click here

by Helen and Erica, October 2019

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