After many prior appellations, you are glad to immerse ourselves this time into the wines developed in the Rhône Valley. A wide wine region organized around a distance 250km following this Rhône river, which totally counts 813km.
We start our tour in Condrieu with one its main ambassadors… So to say, Christophe Pichon is a renowned winegrower, settled in this right bank of the Rhône river, and he vinifies among the most prestigious appellations in this generous region. Indeed, spread over 23 hectares, the Domaine Christophe Pichon is mainly implemented over this rich Condrieu territory, but also in Côte Rôtie, Saint-Joseph and even Cornas appellations. Without missing that a production of white and red table wine completes his production, and not only, because this estate as well contributes into the revival of historical wines of Seyssuel.
In this case, there should be no possibility of transmitting bad tastes. Thereafter, the process is always the same, by pressing the white grapes during 3 hours inside a pneumatic device, even for the Saint-Joseph appellation. Continuing on this green way, only indigenous yeasts are used, and a direct entonnage is settled for Condrieu, Saint-Joseph and local wines, in only few new barrels. After this, juice aging could last approximately between 10 and 12 months (photo credits: Christophe Pichon).
Following this, don’t miss the 6.5 ha belonging to red Saint-Joseph and 2 ha related to white Saint Joseph. This colorful wedding is located on the right bank of the Rhône river, with these plots being based on homogeneous and essentially granitic soils. Structured by vines evolving on sloped planted terraces, those vineyards stand on a large scale age range, from 5 (notably in white juices) until the early 50 years old. This mixity probably explains the heterogeneity and richness of flavors, present inside the line of Saint-Joseph (mostly composed of 90% Marsanne and 10% Roussanne for the white wines and only Syrah varieties for the red wines), issued by this Domaine Christophe Pichon.
Adding to this, don’t miss the 5.9 ha extending on the Côte Rôtie, which is maybe one of the oldest vineyards in France, with an additional 1.3 ha of surface this year 2020, starring a southern exposition on hillsides. For your information, and depending on the location of the vineyards, a distinction needs to be made between the brown Côte Rôtie, which offers more full-bodied wines that age more slowly, and in another hand, the blonde Côte Rôtie side which proposes more delicate wines. It’s commonly known that Syrah is the main grape variety of this appellation, which is sometimes added by a touch of Viognier variety.
Adding to this, count on the 1 ha of Cornas appellation that should be mentioned through the acquisition of grapes, again evolving on a granite soil situated at the top and middle of the slopes. Those fruits mainly grow on plots located on the left bank of the Rhône river on schist soils. There, you could find a mix between 0.75 ha of Syrah, and 0.25 ha of Viognier.
Now, let’s focus on another illustrious wine house… The Vidal-Fleury house was founded in 1781, and quickly acquired an international notoriety, even in the United States where the firm already settled in 1787, thanks to the former president Thomas Jefferson who visited the domain. Thus, even since this period, Vidal-Fleury has been considered as one of the most emblematic houses in Côte-Rôtie. Moreover it has also been regarded as the oldest Rhône Valley house still in operation, despite its vineyard was replanted at the end of the 19th century with American rootstocks after the phylloxera crisis.
If you wanna get further into Vidal-Fleury‘s philosophy, you would learn that the domain proposes a selection of the best local grapes, from the Rhône Valley. This exigency may become possible through a precise sorting and aging of those blends that make the reputation of this specific terroir.
In this amount of renowned wines, you should know that approximately 70% of their references are dedicated to exportation throughout the World, and notably beyond the borders of Europe, since the most important market seems to be the Northern America (with USA and Canada), along Northern Europe (aka the Benelux, Scandinavia and the UK), without forgetting Japan and China…
In the southern side, you could enjoy one of these following appellations, which are Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Tavel, Cairanne, Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Côtes-du-Rhône, Ventoux and Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. This announced wide range of wines offered by Vidal Fleury, is composed by red grapes, counting on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, and as well white ones, in terms of Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Roussanne.
As we should take an example, the territory of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation is spread through the plain of the Comtat Venaissin, on the left bank of the Rhône river and made up of vast terraces covered with red clay. This famous vineyard area owes its existence (and name) to the former pope Jean XXII, who a great wine enthusiast, who had his summer residence built here in Châteauneuf-du-Pape from 1318, naturally surrounded by beautiful olive trees and vines.
Thereafter, the development of the winery is operated in the 9,000m2 of this two-floor cellar. This space contains stainless steel vats and the proper conditions, notably for aging in barrels, with a stable temperature and humidity. So to say, perfect for the single stage and tangential filtration, which is a technique more respectful for wine and environment, and supported by a proper aging period.
Furthermore and since 2021, the cellar is managed by the expert Antoine Dupré, which after numerous experiences in various parts of the World, got tempted by a new challenge proposed by Vidal-Fleury, since he got quickly attached by this region, and especially by the diversity and richness of its different terroirs.
In a way, Vidal-Fleury embodies different facets from the Rhône Valley and is able to display the specificity of each of its different terroirs. Adding to this, you have to know that in their process, when you try a structured and lively wine like in a northern side, its aging takes place in barrels. And for rounder and more delicate wines, its vinification is rather done in casks or in vats, but always on the lees.
Let’s get more into the South with the Domaine Alain Jaume which is closely connected to the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation. In the 14th century, when the Popes were established in Avignon, they built the pontifical castle at Châteauneuf du Pape. The making of wine being closely linked to the church, the Popes became aware of the immense quality of the terroir for the cultivation of vines. This is how they decided to develop the vineyard that surrounded their home.
In this area where millions of years ago, the Rhône river built the basement of the left and right banks by depositing sandy clays and the famous rolled pebbles, the vineyard of Alain Jaume is managed with the greatest respect as possible for the terroir. Therefore, its soils are enriched with natural composts and maintained by shallow plowing, while yields are intentionally lower than expected in order to preserve the surrounding soils, thanks to manual harvesting and sorting. The homemade philosophy would be that nobody could produce quality wines without cultivating its vines in such a way as to allow them to produce healthy and balanced grapes. This commitment may also be illustrated by letting the forces of their unique heritage, the Earth express themselves
More information on their official website.
Then, let’s talk about the Domaine André Brussset initiated in 1947. This charming diversified and fragmented domain has been already lasting for 3 generations, since its foundation by André Brusset.
Followed afterwards by Daniel and his son Laurent who tried as much as possible to carry on the tradition, notably by expanding the estate which today covers 87 hectares (photo credits: Domaine Brusset).
For your information, this Domaine André Brusset is located between Orange, Vaison-la-Romaine and Bollène, in the sunny Vaucluse departement. At least, at the tip of those Côtes du Rhône, you would see that this domain includes 4 of the most emblematic local appellations, so to say Gigondas, Cairanne, Ventoux and Côtes du Rhône.
In order to extract the most fruity assets of wines, its vineyards are cultivated at very low yields. The diversity of plots, reflect a certain respect for terroir and its vegetation, with the goal to obtain a complete range of high quality products.
Adding to this, red wines represent 95% of the domain‘s production here but this vineyard also produces a natural sweet wine. This elixir is native from old 70-year-old vines, mainly planted on clay slopes and composed of Grenache Noir and even a touch Marc de Gigondas.
Indeed, the Gigondas importance holds its full importance there, since some Montmirail vineyards were the last acquisitions by the Domaine André Brusset, in 1986.
Standing at the foot of the dizzy Dentelles de Montmirail, those 19 hectares of vines are situated on an exceptional AOC covering Jurassic terraces and Triassic limestone. Without missing that around the city of Carpentras, stands the AOC Ventoux. For instance, 5 hectares of vines are planted on Les Boudalles estate. The rest of the production is cultivated in the Côtes du Rhône, respecting the ancestral tradition.
At last, don’t also miss their wines from the Cairanne appellation, mostly embodied by “Les Coteaux des Travers” territory. Composed of 40 hectares of vines planted on slopes full of clay-limestone soils, surrounded by large pebbles. The average 30 year old vines remain manually harvested, along a traditional vinification and destemming without any yeast addition, plus aging for 6 months in vats…
This ensemble gives birth to fabulous wines, we can mention here Les Travers 2020, which is a really impressive Cairanne Côtes-du-Rhône Villages item. Thus, this supple and velvety red wine offers gourmet sensations of ripe fruit, spices and liquorice aromas, whose supple tannins predispose to a lingering finish and adaptable to any culinary occasion!
Otherwise, if you are allergic to sulfites. You have the choice to opt for a round and powerful wine, still based on a blend of Grenache and Syrah. But this time, this sulfite-free edition of Cairanne 2020 tends to express the most on very ripe fruity notes and spices. Its fragrance reveals a floral hint of peony and black berries flavors, completed by strawberries and even some liquorice spices. After this statement, you could appreciate its silky and fruity tannins before a fresh and peppery finish.
More information on the official website.