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La Verrière is by far the oldest properties that I work with, dating back to the 15th century when it was built as a glass blowing facility, with an abundance of silica for the glass and trees for burning available in the Dentelles hills. Certain parts of the property are reputed to have been built in the 9th century. On the other hand, the winery, Chêne Bleu which was established at La Verrière in 2006 is the youngest that I work with. The property was in ruin from the 1950’s. The ruin and the surrounding 30 ha (75 acres) of vineyards and 70 ha of forest was purchased by Xavier Rolet in the 1990’s with aim of restoring the property. The vineyards had been cultivated by many small growers on what was abandoned land with the grapes being sent to the local cooperative where they were blended in with other grapes from the valley. Xavier continued this approach until his sister, Bénédicte and her husband Jean-Louis Galluci pointed out that the terroir, nestling next to Gigondas and at altitude justified producing his own estate wines. Convinced, Xavier built a winery which was completed in 2006.
The terroir is located at 500 m (1500 ft) of altitude, thus conserving a greater level of natural acidity in the wines that is normally the case in the Southern Rhône. As well bringing a great freshness, the higher natural acidity gives great ageing potential to the wines. In common with the great vineyards of the region, the soils are infertile with a high degree of limestone, generating concentrated and complex wines with good minerality.
The vineyards covers four different wine classifications: AOC Ventoux, IGP, AOC Gigondas and AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret . The two top reds, Héloise and Abelard are produced from old vines plots which cross the different classification boundaries, so are labelled with the base classification, IGP. The vineyards are contiguously located around the property and surrounded by forest which provides the perfect scenario for organic viticulture. The property also incorporates biodynamic approaches to assist them in their goal of natural viticulture.
The winery is built into the slope which means gravity can be used to move the wine through some of its stages and thus reduce the need for pumping. The wines are fermented in a mixture of stainless steel and “foudres” (very large upright oak barrels) for the reds and stainless steel and/or smaller oak barrels for the whites and rosé. The two top reds are aged for up to three years in barriques (225 litre small oak barrels) and concrete.
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IGP Viognier White: Limestone and clay hills at 500m altitude. Fermented and matured in stainless and new to three wine-old barriques (225 litre oak barrels). Ageing potential: Up to 7 years.
IGP “Aliot” White: Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Marsanne. Limestone and clay hills at 500m altitude. Fermented and matured in stainless and new to two year-old wine-old demi-muids (600 litre oak barrels). Ageing potential: Up to 10 years.
Ventoux Rosé: Majority Grenache with Syrah and a touch of Vermentino. Limestone and clay hills at 500m altitude. Fermented and matured in stainless with a very short time in demi-muids. Ageing potential: Up to 5 years.
Ventoux “Astrolabe” Red: Majority Grenache with Syrah. Limestone and clay hills at 500m altitude. Fermented and matured in stainless and foudres (very large oak casks). Ageing potential: Up to 8 years.
IGP “Héloise” Red: Majority old vine Syrah with old vine Grenache and a touch of Viognier. Limestone and clay hills at 500m altitude. Fermented in foudres (very large oak casks) and matured in new to three wine-old barriques and concrete. Ageing potential: Up to 20 years.
IGP “Abelard” Red: Majority old vine Grenache with old vine Syrah. Limestone and clay hills at 500m altitude. Fermented in foudres (very large oak casks) and matured in new to three wine-old barriques and concrete. Ageing potential: Up to 15 years.
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