Summary of Grower Visits – Part V

Posted on Posted in Bastide du Claux, Chateau Valcombe, Domaine Bois de Boursan, Domaine de Fenouillet, Neal speaks!, Occasional Thoughts

BOIS DE BOURSAN: 2018 was a difficult vintage for Jean-Paul Versino (JPV); harvest began 12 Sept ended 28 Sept; due to extensive mildew throughout the season, he harvested 11.5 hectoliters per hectare; this on the heels of 2017 which yielded another small crop size of 22   (h l/ha).

The 2017 Tradition was harvested between 6 Sept and 26 Sept; excellent balance; 80% stems included; quite fruity with lively acidity/freshness; tannins are well constructed, firm but pleasantly granular; per JPV the ’17 resemble the 1999 and the 2006, both excellent vintages here; a fruitier, rather than animal, version of the BdB Tradition.

Felix 2017: 30% Mourvedre, 60% Grenache, 10% assorted others; very dense; will be bottled in October 2019; very solid, “black” wine of great promise; very substantial.

The 2016 Tradition was just bottled at the end of September 2018; harvest levels @ 28 hl/ha; very concentrated wine with a touch of surmaturité; at 15% abv; very generous, thick, formidable; 90% stems included; per JPV: less “classique” than 2015 … opulent, tannins well rounded, quite flattering, resembling 2007 and 1990.

Felix 2016: a very great wine in my estimation with the touch of animal that I enjoy; quite spicy with notes of crushed black pepper.

We also tasted the quite remarkable 2015s, both Tradition and Felix; the Tradition presents with restraint now, somewhat austere and rigorous; showing excellent potential; 14.2% abv.

The Felix 2015 has a hint of surmaturité in the nose; very long, persistent tannins showing a strong influence of Mourvedre; definitely a wine worth cellaring.

Finally, the “Selection JP Versino” has 15 months more elevage; a wine more elegant than its cousins from the vintage with silkier tannins; only two barrels worth … 600 or so bottles.

DOMAINE DE FENOUILLET: 2018 loss of 15% to 20% of the harvest due to mildew. 2017 production was even worse: loss of 50% due to frost.

Ventoux Rouge 2017 was bottled the day before our arrival (17 Oct 2018); blend of Carignan, Mourvedre, Syrah and Grenache (60%); shipped to us one day later.

Beaumes de Venise Rouge “Terres Blanches” 2017: 60% Grenache / 30% Syrah / 10% Mourvedre ; fine and well balanced with lively freshness in finish ; darker fruits on the nose ; a refined and elegant wine that is clearly one of the best values in our portfolio.

 Beaumes de Venise Rouge Cuvée Yvon Soard 2017: vineyards on the Dentelles de Montmirail; more rich than the preceding wine, offering a complex salad of red fruits on the palate with a dense texture; this cuvée continues to improve as the Soard brothers have reduced the extraction and have harvested earlier to avoid the cooked fruit that occasionally plagued this potentially dramatic wine.

The Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2017 maintains the rigor that makes it the best offering of this kind in the marketplace.. totally under control, no exaggerations ….

CHATEAU VALCOMBE: 2018 was a disaster at Valcombe; 90% crop loss!!! Virtually no red, limited rosé and a bit of white were produced. Life will continue as Luc Guenard has reserved 6500 bottles of the Hauts de Valcombe 2015, a superb and elegant wine that belies its modest appellation.

The Ventoux “Epicure” 2015 is a step up with more material; there remains a small amount of stock of the 2015 for us … about 2400 bottles; blend is 60% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 15% Syrah.

Epicure Rouge 2016 is a more elegant wine than the powerful 2015; bottled in summer 2018; a pretty and quite promising wine that finishes with high-class tannins … impressive!

Luc showed us a special cuvée he produced in 2015 of 100% old vines (90 year old) Carignan; We have the good fortune of working with an intelligent convert to the role of vignerons, a man who is truly dedicated and whose low-key demeanor belies the effort and dedication on view at this domaine that deserves more acclaim for producing sophisticated, unpretentious wines of exceptional value.

BASTIDE DU CLAUX (SYLVAIN MOREY): Here we have the pleasure of working with a truly intelligent and thoughtful vigneron. The more I work with Sylvain, the more I appreciate his approach and the more I enjoy his company. The potential of the Luberon to produce high quality wine is clearly in the hands of Sylvain Morey.

The harvest at Bastide du Claux takes many weeks as ripening in the Luberon is uneven and despite its southern location, the weather can be quite variable and cool. Here are some details on upcoming wines:

“BarabanLuberon Blanc 2017: bottled Sept 2018, strikingly mineral with notes of white grapefruit; undergoes malo; combination of 15 to 70 year old vines; 40% Grenache Blanc, 20% Vermentino, 10% Clairette, 10% Ugni Blanc, 10% Marsanne/Roussanne, 10% Viognier.

“Odalisque” 2016: bottled March 2018, special cuvée has longer elevage; from a parcel with lots of clay (argile); elevage 100% in demi-muids; 40% Grenache Blanc, 30% Vermentino, 30% Viognier.

“Malacare” Luberon Rouge 2016: lots of energy in this wine that makes it a delight at the table; 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache Noir, 20% Carignan; 16 months of elevage with half in foudre, half in cement.

“Le Claux” 2016: this from a parcel of pure “argile” (clay); longer elevage in demi-muids; vines are 45 years of age; much more structure to this cuvée, rather broad-shouldered; excellent. 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre.

“Orientale” 2016: 50% Syrah, 50% Grenache; from the eastern sector of Le Claux parcel with very old vines of Syrah; 2nd part of cuvée comes from old Grenache vines; 2 year elevage in demi-muid; bottled August 2018; more rustic, slightly feral in the nose; excellent “finale” with fine tannins; a wine to consider.

Next commentary on Provence to follow shortly …

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