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A Short Trip Through the Southern Rhone


My trip south ended in Italy for just a day and the return back up through France gave a chance to stop in in Vacqueras for a few days, this was a holiday and my wine ‘visits’ were limited so I had two days that I had planned in advance, the first was in the Ventoux.
Having drunk some encouraging reds from the region here I thought a bit of tasting was in order and managed four wineries in the day.
I started with the Domaine des Anges, this winery was one of the first to get the name Ventoux on the map, three reds were tasted, Cotes de Ventoux rouge, which I have to say was disappointing nothing special at all, the Archange red, easy drinking but a bit heady, and Seraphin straight forward and juicy and my favorite but none set me alight and I did not purchase.
Thet did do a special label memeorial wine that was not available in honour of Tom Simpson the cyclist who died on the Ventoux, in a way I was glad they didn’t have it as that awful place dominates the area and I had paid my respects a couple of years earlier.
Next was Fondreche which started a theme, this is one of the top wineries here and there best wine Persia was O/S so no joy there, but I tried the others and the base red was good the Ventoux rouge, the other cuvees were to me all over extracted, to much of everything and not to my liking, others of course love this style.
I purchased some of the rouge and left, lovely house attached to this winery.
Ch Pesquie followed, not that easy to find despite its size, this a very commercial operation selling goodies as well as wine and tours etc are all there, I was a bit sceptical as having drunk the Terrasses from the WS and been disappointed as like so many others it was to much of a good thing I wondered what the superior cuvees were like, the Grenache based Ascensio was my favorite ripe smooth and some length, the other two, Artemia which Robert Parker raved about and Quintessence I found again to be over the top, so the Ascensio was the one I purchased.


My final call was H Brunier & Fils who are renowned for their Megaphone cuvee, still to much for me but more acceptable with cherries some citrus and a solid wine well made and a decent drink, but nothing to get excited about, this of course is made by the company that own CNP Vieux Telegraphe and was tasted along with the CNP in the Chateauneuf de Pape tasting rooms.

Which brings me to my second day which was a visit in the morning to Chateauneuf de Pape, where all the major wineries have their tasting rooms and outlets and in the afternoon to Gigondas a far more agreable place, in fact one of the nicest wine villages I have been to anywhere.
Chateauneuf I only went to the Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe and Perrins and Santa Duconce again the same theme, and Perrins could for me describe the rest Beaucastel was lovely but the other Ville Vignes and special cuveees were again far to heavy for me and even with age I could not see myself loving them, I did purchase some Cadoulet though with some hesitance as to whether it will subdue somewhat, we shall see.
Back in Gigondas the Cave is the place to go as they have most of the wineries products under one roof and are very helpful but over the road Domaine Brusset have their outlet and it was the Hauts du Montmirail that I had my sights on, it was up to expectation and a purchase was made along with a rather nice white Les Travers that got the seal of approval from the wife so a couple of bottles were added to the Gigondas, but once again the “special” cuvees tried, Tradition, Les Secrets and a Ventoux they did were all to much, if these wines had been Australian Shiraz of a few years back, everyone would be screaming to alcoholic, over extracted no balance yet somehow they escape that critiscism, maybe it is simply they are not my cup of tea , yet I was very happy with what I had purchased, and I am not adverse to a full on wine if it has been well put together.
As a final note before going up to the Alsace were the cheap Ventouxs able to stand up to the area leaders, the TerraVentoux certainly was in my book which makes digging out the less well known a worthwhile exercise.
As far as the Ventoux’s on the TW list the Les Cinq Puits is the class leader in my book very good quality and ranks with anything I have tasted here.
It is as it was before a beautiful part of the world so much within a short distance to see, spoilt for choice with villages and the Dentilles is lovely when you start to explore and much much more, but I would like to see the French start to put some decent bathrooms in their hotels, nothing seems to have changed with many of them for decades, still can’t have it all.


Thanks - a good read. I’ve been to Ch Pesquie and the wine I most enjoyed was a white with some bottle age.

I’d also recommend the TerraVentoux range. We stayed in Villes-sur-Auzon where the co-op has a cave.


Thanks Richard, as I said elsewhere I passed TerraVentoux but sadly being under orders and short of time I couldn’t stop, shame because if that cheapie was anything to go by it is must for next time.


I like your style!!


In the light of the current Decanter article by Matt Walls on the Ventoux region, a few personal observations.
Firstly any comparison shows how much our tastes can differ, and before anyone says well he is a professional and you… it makes no difference, you either like a wine or you don’t someone else’s taste is just that someone else’s, that is not a condemnation of Matt Walls just pointing out how with wine there can be so many views of the same product.

Anyway he rightly points out how the Ventoux is becoming rapidly a very up and coming appellation and in some ways it has already arrived.
His assessment of the wineries and the regional land differences are all good stuff but it is his Ventoux best buys that I query, firstly I have to say again I am not one of those who think since Captain Bob stood down, that I have reverted to all that is big is passe and we should all be drinking fresher toned down wines, there is room for all and many big wines are fantastic in their own right.

The Rhone however does have a lot of big wines and my trip showed that for me many were indeed overblown and over extracted, time may well cure these ills but not in all cases and most Ventoux are not for the long haul though a few are, there is a distinction, the same can be said of the other Southern Rhone appellations, as I mentioned at the start many of the wines I tasted, mainly special cuvees, would undoubtedly been classed as over extracted, overblown, over alcoholic if they had come from the southern hemisphere, so why the Rhone gets a pass on this I do not know, it’s all about balance wherever the big wines come from and many I tasted did not have it.

He quotes Fondreche and Ch Pesquie which in my book both had cuvees that were in the over extracted category yet he feels they are just highly concentrated, vive le difference, and gives what I would call Suckling scores to a couple of them, and there was a wine from Domaine Anges given a glowing review when I could not find a single wine above what could be termed average in their current offerings.

It is only when you personally have that parallel experience you can state something like that, it shows just how diverse opinion can and should be where an individuals palate is concerned and proving as if it is necessary that critics and experts can only be a rough guide as once again it is what you like that matters.


Interesting comments. I received the magazine a few days ago and that was the only article I read. I think this issue is my last as I cancelled the DD some time a go and it is up for renewal soon.

I am aware of Pesquie from this site but have never tried them.

The main reason I cancelled the magazine was because it’s ratings differed so much from the views of people trying them on this forum and others as well as my own. Plus most wines featured were out of my budget.