For the sporty drinkers out there, the appellation Ventoux will always be associated with the mountain that cyclists love to conquer. The appellation is quite large and covers 51 communes on the slopes of Mount Ventoux and the Vaucluse Mountains in the southern Rhône region. There are almost 6,000 hectares of vines planted on limestone rock with red tertiary and alluvial soils. The climate is Mediterranean and there is a strong influence from the Mistral wind.
Like most of the other Rhône appellations, the wines of Ventoux developed during the period of the Avignon Papacy in the 14th and 15th centuries. Today, there are 1400 growers in the region and around 140 wineries, although this is increasing with tourism rising in the area. Listed as a biosphere reserve in 1990 by Unesco, respect for the environment and a considerable amount of organic winegrowing are key characteristics of the wines. The wines are warm and soft with fragrant berry characteristics for the reds and scents of blossom and garrigue (the local soil which has a warm, fragrant aroma) for the white wines. Like other Rhône regions, Ventoux wines can be made from a variety of different grapes but primarily from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan for the reds and rosés and Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette and Marsanne for the whites. Quality is definitely on the rise here as new, ambitious winemakers are arriving in the region and replacing the rather mediocre wines made in the past by the local cooperatives.
- Epicure Rosé Ventoux0.75l RoséBio€8.70 €7.19This year, Luc Guénard did not make any Épicure red wine because of the frost. However all his Grenache grapes were put into this delicious, savoury rosé. Made with the usuasl care: direct pressing, aging on the lees and bottled after a few months spent in concrete vats and one barrel, this organic rosé is a pleasure for those who love rosé wines to accompany summer meals.
- Epicure Rouge Ventoux0.75l RedBio€10.70 €8.84Luc Guénard is very proud of the 2015 vintage and especially the expression of the Grenache fruit which is evident in the bright, juicy fruit and white flower aromas. There is great purity and balance here and Luc’s natural winemaking is leading to less and less treatments and use of sulphur. We love this wine for its natural, fresh flavours and its ripe fruit, brimming with character and richness. Produced from vines that are more than 55 years old, grown on the southern slopes of Mount Ventoux but facing north-west and cooled by constant breezes, this wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 25% Carignan and 15% Syrah. Excellent value, this organic wine just keeps getting better and better.
- Epicure Blanc Ventoux0.75l WhiteBio€12.20 €10.08Small yields, organic farming and vineyards that are worked by hand, chiefly by owner Luc Guenard, are the secrets of success of this beautifully aromatic and fresh white wine. Made from a blend of old vines - 40% Grenache Blanc, 20% Roussane, 20% Clairette and 20% Bourboulenc – the wine is vinified in temperature controlled cement tanks with one quarter of the wine being made in barrels. A very appetising wine with a bright, pale yellow colour and an expressive nose of almonds, mint, blossom and wild flower. Melon, pear and white pepper flavours combine to give a round, generous taste with lots of mineral salinity in the finish. Delicious with lots of verve. Serve with poached or baked fish, vegetable dishes and poultry.
- La Spéciale Ventoux0.75l RedBio€17.19 €14.21Situated in the town of St Pierre de Vassols, at an altitude of 250 metres, on north-west hillsides, facing the Dentelles de Montmirail, this tiny production wine is made from very old Carignan vines that are tended with great respect. It is aged in 400 litre oak barrels. The colour is a deep garnet red, on the nose the wine is rich and spicy with toasty aromas and notes of balsamic, vanilla and dark chocolate. In the palate there is great freshness and lift, with lots of dark, plummy fruit interwoven with caramel and coffee. A wine for lovers of old vines.
- La Spéciale Ventoux0.75l RedBio€17.19 €14.21Produced from pure Carignan goblet trained vines planted around 1936, this is a very expressive nose which tastes of the wild landscape where it is grown. There is lots of spice in the nose, plums, sloes and wild flowers. On the palate the wine shows its organic roots with pure flavours, great acidity, some balsamic notes, spicy and soft with echoes of wild blossom and honey in the finish. A fascinating wine with lots of character.
- Grande Serène Ventoux0.75l RedBio€36.80 €30.41Another of Luc Guénard’s reserve wines produced in small quantities, this year 3,000 bottles were made. Serine is an old name for the Syrah grape and is especially used in the northern Rhone appellation of “Côte Rôtie” and the wine is a play on that association. Old vines oriented towards the north east and a cold wind that blows down from Mount Ventoux around 5:00 am every morning, account for the incredible freshness in this wine. The flavours of this wine combine autumn fruits, wild hedgerow scents, beautifully integrated oak and an abiding acidity make this a perfectly pitched wine between power and elegance. It will age well for at least another ten years and is great served with red meats cooked on the open fire or barbeque.