Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose - So said Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. It's usually translated as "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Sometimes change goes unnoticed; other times, it may come as a surprise. Over the past decade, one of our most popular Rosé wines adhered to a particular style - very pale in color, bone dry, with aromas devoid of any detectable red fruit. This is what we came to expect from Sébastien Vincenti and Nanou Barthélemy's Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Rosé after a decade of consistency. I would repeatedly tell customers that if it were served to me in a black glass, I would think it was white wine - it was that sleek. When we received our container of Rosé wines early this summer, we were all quite surprised by the appearance of the 2016 Fondrèche Rosé. It had color.
Although color alone doesn't necessarily indicate that the wine's flavor profile has changed, it does most certainly affect everyone's perception of it. I think Anya nailed it on the head when she described its color as, "a light salmon/coral." Each year, when we receive our Rosé wines from France, our staff gets together and gives them all a taste. Over the past decade, the Fondrèche Rosé can be a little shy and muted when it first arrives. We're never worried about it. After a month or so, it comes to life, and it actually can keep longer than most Rosé wines. So when we headed to the tasting room earlier this year for Rosé day, we were all anxious to taste Sébastien's Rosé. The verdict? Fantastic! The very first thing we noticed was that its color is a bit deceptive. It's no fruit bomb. It's actually very much like its former self, only with detectable red fruit aromas, and a bit of fruit on the palate. If anything, it's better; though I still may be challenged identifying it as a Rosé if tasting it from the aforementioned black glass. Hints of strawberries and watermelon drift from the glass, though their expression is subtle. There are herbal notes as well as stony minerals. The palate is bone-dry, the soft melon-y fruit sits at its core with the other complexities wrapped around it. The finish is dry and crisp, like always.
Maybe the word "change" is not doing a service to the 2016 Fondrèche Rosé; it's more like Vincenti finely tuned it. Either way, it's an extraordinary effort by a winemaker who is not afraid of change. In fact, Sébastien had been working organically for many years, finally obtaining certification in 2013. In January of 2016, Decanter magazine reported that he dropped his organic status in favor of "better treatments." An interesting concept - and one worth looking into. This resonates with me as it was just Thursday evening, I was dining with a Bordeaux negociant and a young woman from a very prominent Bordeaux family. We spoke about her mother's property, and she told me that though her mother is open to some organic techniques, she wouldn't go fully organic due to the impact of copper to the soil, which over the long-term is detrimental to a vineyard. This, of course, has my interest piqued, and I will continue to investigate it. But for now, it's time for me to just grab a bottle and head off for the weekend. We've got a big showdown in the world of English Football tomorrow morning; kick off is 5:30 PDT. May the best team win. Happy Weekend! - Peter Zavialoff