The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2018

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Page 53 of 124

january/february 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  53 this tasting offered a lovely Southern Cru of the Rhône Valley that was formerly a Côtes du Rhône Villages with a geographic indication back in the 1970s—Gigondas. Crus of the Côtes du Rhône have much stricter standards in the vineyards and cellars, and grape sourcing is restricted to the specific appellation. Northern Rhône Crus comprise of about 5 percent of the region's production, while Southern Rhône Crus produce about 12 percent. *Please note that the information in this article has been determined by the Inter Rhône's pyramid hierarchy of the Côtes du Rhône and Rhône Valley wines. Inter Rhône is the official association of the Rhône Valley. Ventoux, Château Pesquié, Artemia, 2012 The Rhône Valley vineyards also extend further southward with seven additional appellations: Grignan-les-Adhémar, Ventoux, Luberon, Côtes du Vivarais, Duché d'Uzès, Clairette de Bellegarde, and Costières de Nîmes. Mont-Ventoux to the northeast of Avignon in the Southern Rhône features extraordinary geographical and vinous elements. The mountain itself, rising more than 6,000 feet above sea level, is some- times called the "Giant of Provence." It has an undisputed effect on the surrounding area: UNESCO has recognized the area as a "biosphere reserve." Characteristics of the biosphere include a high level of sunshine in this eastern part of the Côtes du Rhône, as well as the empha- sized effect of the nearby Mediterranean to the south. The Mistral also sweeps in from North Africa, bringing with it a drying wind that protects the vineyards in its path from mildew, rot, and other maladies associated with excess humidity. Artemia, Château Pesquié's top cuvée, is a 50-50 blend of Grenache and Syrah from separate vineyards that the winery believes shows "the amazing potential of the Ventoux terroir." While the thin-skinned Grenache struggles to produce deep color in wines, that's never a problem with the deeply-pigmented Syrah. Grenache brings moderate tannins, high acidity, and red fruit, while Syrah contributes medium acidity and more powerful tannins while tilting more to black fruit. All in all, the wine shows depth, concentration, and elegance without sacrificing finesse and freshness—all envel- oped in a lushness on the palate from aging in bottle for five years. Tasting Notes: "Balanced with blackberry and anise; round, full, and juicy. My favorite!" —Liza Meli, Owner, BarMeli "Warm blackberry and cranberry, red beets, and fennel frond. Sarsaparilla and fresh violets. Smoky palate with warm mushroom fricassee. Savory finish and long-lasting." —Jennifer Schmitt "A blend of a lot of different fruits on the nose—a hint of blackber- ries and blueberries together with tobacco and red berry flavors. On the palate, a longer finish with baked cherry pie." —Marija Mijic, Sommelier, The Matador Room Gigondas, Ogier, Dentellis, 2014 Grenache is still the dominant variety in the Southern Crus of the Côtes du Rhône and can constitute up to 80% of a blend, with Syrah and Mourvèdre each allowed up to 15%. All the other red varieties of the Côtes du Rhône (except Carignan) can make up no more than 10% of the blend. This recipe still allows striking variety among producers and assures a vibrant array of flavors in the glass. Ogier's Dentellis cuvée of Gigondas consists of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre. To maintain the vibrant red fruit of the Grenache, the wine was aged for just 12 months in large casks called foudres; these casks are anywhere from one to forty years old and hold 6,000–8,000 liters each. This permits the mellowing effect of micro-oxygenation without adding any wood character to the finished wine. Tasting Notes "Intense ruby color and great extraction. Garnet hues. Long finish on palate. Intense and warm. Figs and blueberry compote with thyme and rosemary notes." —Maria Martinez Romero, Sommelier, Lost Tree Club "Black cherry and brandied red currants. Slight citrus tone with orange oil. Dried geranium with thyme blossoms and lav- ender. Hot stones/granite and crush green peppercorn linger on the finish."—Jennifer Schmitt, Advanced Sommelier/Beverage Manager, Starr Restaurants The Takeaway From Hermitage to the Ventoux, this incredible seaside celebration showcased the great diversity of the Rhône Valley. The blind tasting luncheon served as part of the successful "Wine O' Clock" event series, created to promote the Rhône Valley Vineyards with an educational, entertaining approach.

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