Grape varieties:70% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Others
Southern Rhône wines are almost always blended around Grenache to bring balance, complexity and richness of aroma to the wines. Thirteen varietals are permitted. The main varieties are:
Grenache – Medium ruby colour and high alcohol. Delightfully fruity (red fruits) in youth, spice: prune notes with age. Medium dry tannins that soften with age.
Syrah – Deep colour with purple shades. Very tight but velvety tannins giving good ageing potential. Violet and/ or black fruit aromas. With age the aromas evolves towards wild aromas of leather, truffle, and towards liquorice
Mourvèdre – Dark brick red, high tannin brings additional ageing quality to the blend. Sometimes animal notes in its youth become fruity (dark berries, leather, undergrowth, pine, liquorice) and spicy with age.
Cinsault – High proportion in Rosé. Elegant, fruity aromas, light colour and tannin (in reds).
Grenache Blanc – Low acidity giving smoothness and length on the palate with floral aromas and notes of apple and pear.
Clairette – Brings acidity and freshness to the blend. Floral, complex aromas of rose and acacia with notes of white peach and exotic fruit.
Roussanne – Brings finesse and delicacy and a great deal of elegance. Good acidity in the northern Rhône enabling the wine to age well. Complex aromas of honeysuckle with touches of apricot, hawthorn or narcissus.
Bourboulenc – Brings good acidity to the blend. Floral aromas.
Marsanne – Medium acidity, with high aromatic potential in young wines. Complex and subtle floral aromas of acacia, dried fruit and nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut).
Viognier – Medium colour with low acidity and very fruity (pear) in the Southern Rhône. In the Northern Rhône, it brings suppleness and smoothness. Great aromatic potential – acacia, honeysuckle, violet, almond blossom, linden, and with age, musk, honey and dried apricot.
Terroir: Multiple plots of sand, clay, limestone and rolled stones (“galets”) on the eastern side of the appellation.
The vast majority of wines in the Southern Rhône are aged in neutral tanks such as concrete and stainless steel in order to preserve the delightful fruity characteristics of Grenache. Where oak is used, it is often only used for a proportion of the blend. The majority of wines in the Northern Rhône however, are aged in oak.
The amount of oak flavour in the wine depends on:
The following classifications are used for wines listed on this website:
No Oak – The wine is aged in neutral vats or large, old oak barrels that impart no oak flavours. These wines will be fruit-forward and bright in their early years.
Light Oak – Oak flavours are present but do not dominate the wine when young. The wine may only be partly aged in smaller oak barrels and/or the barrels may have been used for one to three prior wines.
Prominent Oak – Oak flavour is a noticeable feature of the wine, particularly when young. Oak also imparts oak tannins into the wine which can increase the ageing potential of the wine, thus allowing the wine to develop complex aromas over many years.
Drinking time: 2 to 12 years
Reviews: W&S 90 pts, WS 93 pts
The ratings of leading reviewers are listed here with their written comments detailed at the bottom of the page.
Remember that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Each wine reviewer has personal tastes and, as hard as they try, preferences can be reflected in the numerical score a reviewer gives to a wine. This is why is important to read their comments rather than judge a wine by its numerical score.
JR = Jancis Robinson. Score out of 20 points.
RP = Robert Parker, Wine Advocate. Score out of 100 points.
JD = Jeb Dunnuck. Score out of 100 points.
WS = Wine Spectator. Score out of 100 points.
W&S = Wine and Sprits. Score out of 100 points.
WE = Wine Enthusiast. Score out of 100 points.
VM = Vinous Media. Score out of 100 points.
JS= James Suckling. Score out of 100 points.
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The Gonnet family have been in the area of Châteauneuf du Pape since 1600 but it was until 1950 that the family commenced the cultivatation of vines. Etienne Gonnet purchased vineyards on the south east area of Châteauneuf du Pape which he combined with his wife, Jeanne’s vineyards (inherited from the Brunier family of Vieux Télégraphe) and Domaine Font-de-Michelle was born – “Domaine Font du Vent” in the US market. The property is now run by Etienne and Jeanne’s grandsons, Guillaume and Bertrand. The domaine cultivate 46 ha (115 acres) of vines in Châteauneuf du Pape and 20 ha of vines in the Gard including AOC Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages Sinargues which is sold under the Font du Vent label.
The terroir of Châteauneuf du Pape is mostly on sandy and rocky soils which produces a concentrated but silky red wine style which is very much the hallmark of Font du Vent. The sandy soil also provides wonderful freshness to their Châteauneuf du Pape white wine.
The domaine has worked organically for many years but it was not until Guillaume and Bertrand took over the reins from their fathers that they opted for Organic registration. They have also adopted biodynamic practices on parcels of their oldest vines to prolong their longevity. The oldest vines are 120 years old and are located on a raised plateau where there is a little more clay giving wines of even more intensity.
The Châteauneuf du Pape reds are mostly fermented in pyramidal concrete vats. They opt for a gentle extraction of tannin and colour. The majority grape, Grenache is matured in concrete and large oak barrels (“foudres”). The foudres round out the tannins without imparting oak flavour, thus allowing for a fuller expression of their terroir in the wine. Syrah and Mouvèdre are matured in used 600 litre oak barrels (“demi-muids”).
The wine styles are traditional with delicate touches of modernity that do not compromise the unique expression of their terroir.
Wine Spectator (WS)
2018 vintage (93 points): Open-knit, with a pretty mix of steeped plum and lightly mulled raspberry notes infused with anise, singed sandalwood and garrigue accents. A charming wine. Best from 2021 through 2033.
Wine & Spirits (W&S) 2019 vintage (90 points): This is floral and fresh, with violet scents and vibrant purple and red fruit underlined with a cocoa-like earthiness. It’s simple yet complete, balanced for coq au vin.