Grape varieties:79% Grenache, 8% Syrah, 8% Mourvèdre, 4% Cinsault, 1% Rolle
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: Vineyards at an altitude of over 500 metres bring excellent natural acidity to the wine. The soil is a very stony mix of clay and limestone.
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: 1 to 3 years
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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La Verrière is by far the oldest property 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 the aim of restoring the property and its vineyards.
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.