2016 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Rosé

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:34 PM

2016 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Rosé

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
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Whew! Who knew? Put someBurgundy on sale, and things get hopping! Or as one customer who came in today said,“Burgundy sales are the only way mere mortals can buy and enjoy the stuff.” True, true. When we introduced this little surprise sale, we did mention that it wasmore than just Burgundy, and many of you found some other goodies by clicking around our website. On the heels of my recent blurb about affordable reds,I just kicked the proverbial rock and uncovered another beauty, andIT’S ON SALE for $9.95 per bottle: the 2011 Domaine Fondrèche Fayard!

 

 
 
On the heels indeed, of my recent write-up and Anya’s recent post about the 2013 Ventoux Rouge. I hesitated for a moment to put fingers to keyboard about this wine thinking it too similar to these two recent posts, but no, it’s a different wine; for sure. This baby has been gettingsome nice beauty rest and is in a fine place to treat our taste buds this summer! When I first approached the bottle to pour myself a taste, I brought some expectations. As Anya mentioned about the 2013, it needed air. We havealways enjoyed Sébastien Vincenti’s wines over the years, but we know that his wines tend to be in need of oxygen when they’re young. That’s just how he rolls; wedecant the wines, and they’re great. I remembertasting the 2011 Fayard when it was young. It was dense and jammy; the fruit was in the forefront and it was a challenge to perceive the overall framework of the wine because of it. Time has been kind to this wine.With those expectations in the back of my mind, I looked; I swirled. I reached for the light switch as I wanted to closely examine the color – it had changed. It’s not bricking or anything, but it has grown deeper in the maroon department and away from the magenta/purple hue it shined in its youth. A positive sign of a little age. I sniffed. Whoa. Tar, earth, there’s fruit, but it’s more mature, less jammy and more in line with the complex notes that one perceives now that it’s not so fruit forward. On the palate, it has a medium bodied mouth feel. It’sbright, the acidity is very much alive, and the fruit is smoky leading me to check the percentage of Syrah in the blend: 30%. It’s half Grenache, 30% Syrah, and the rest equal parts Carignan and Mourvèdre. Did I mention it was 10 bucks? If I sat down in a nice restaurant and they poured me a glass of this wine for 10 bucks I would be doing backflips, not to mention I would return again and again for more. I know that I grabbed a case of that 2010 Tradicional to keep my new apartment stocked with an underpriced delicious red, but I’ve got to have a case of this too! If you like southern Rhône Valley reds with smoky, Syrah character and a little bit of bottle bouquet, don’t walk, run to this one.
 
 
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, we had a busy week. In the timing department, along with the sale, the week was marked by the release of the 2015 prices for some of Bordeaux’s marquis names. David has been staying up in the middle of the night as these prices are released, making sure that our allocations are confirmed. I’ve been trying my best to get all of these purchases into our system and website, and you will soon see more offers for 2015 Bordeaux futures. This week promises to be chock full of even more releases as the campaign is soon to reach its pinnacle. So please keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, this latest little sale of ours continues, and hits like the 2011 Fondrèche Ventoux Fayard keep coming. Talk about pleasant surprises!– Peter Zavialoff
 
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2015 Bordeaux futures, our sale, the 2011 Fayard, or the state of English Football: peter@wineSF.com
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2013 Domaine Fondreche Ventoux Rouge

Friday, May 20, 2016 6:14 PM


Domaine de Fondrèche Ventoux Rouge

Hands down, the most important producer in the Ventoux, Domaine de Fondrèche continues to evolve – adjusting, experimenting, remaining dynamic. From the start, I’ve been drawn to winemaker Sébastien Vicenti’s wines for they encompass deep fruit expression with captivating spice and herb notes. Success and accolades haven’t stifled Sébastien’s drive to make the finest wine possible. Not at all. For the 2013 vintage, and going forward, the winery will no longer be making their special cuvée, Nadal. Nadal, a Grenache-based blend, garnered high scores and was one of my all-time favorite Rhône reds carried at TWH. So where is all that old-vine Grenache going to go? My guess is that it all went into the 2013 Ventoux and is possibly the reason why this vintage is so incredibly dense and chewy. I should be more upset that my beloved Nadal is no more, but the sting of that loss is easily mitigated by the impressive bottling of the 2013 Ventoux.

 

Bobby Kacher with Sèbastien
 

Another change at the winery, but one of less consequence than the demise of Nadal, is that their Ventoux rouge has dropped the name “Fayard”. So henceforth, I’ll be calling Fondrèche’s basic red, the Ventoux rouge. The 2013 Ventoux rouge is half Grenache, 40% Syrah and the balance, Mourvèdre. Sébastien Vicenti is a strict practitioner of organic farming, and though is not certified as such, closely follows the principles of biodynamic farming. In interviews, Sébastien emphasizes the connection between the natural harmony of the land and soil to the grapes. His credo in the vineyard carries over into the winery, where he strives to do “less” to attain “more” from the grapes. The 2013 Ventoux rouge is aged in a combination of egg-shaped concrete tanks, barrels and Foudres. This makes for a very texturally rich and engaging wine. The French publication, Le Guide Hachette des Vins, described it as “chewable”, noting its generous palate as round and silky. The Le Guide Hachetteeven bestowed a coveted “Coup de Coeur”, suggesting it is a wine worthy to investigate, irrespective of price. Good newshere as it relates to price is the 2013 Ventoux rouge is $16.99 per bottle, getting down to $14.44 when purchased by the case or as part of a mixed one! A stunning bargain!

 
Domaine de Fondrèche
 

All this gushing over the wine does come with a recommendation and it is this: Be prepared to decant. In Sébastien’s effort to control the freshness of the grapes, the resulting wine is in need of oxygen to release its full potential. Can you pop the cork, pour a glass straight out of the bottle and enjoy it? Sure, that is perfectly acceptable, but I want to suggest getting the wine some air to really set off the bevy of sweet spices and licorice notes you get on the nose. It is one of those wines that can be enjoyed one glass at a time over the course of several days from the bottle. It won’t fall apart quickly.

 
Second Growth, baby!
 

Some weeks are good “food” weeks and other are good “wine” weeks. For me, this week was both. It began last Saturday night when my husband and I went to La Folie. The dinner was my Valentine Day’s present. Flowers and jewelry are good choices, but so is a fine meal! It was our first time at La Folie and, though I don’t normally do so, I brought along a special bottle of wine – 2000 Puligny Montrachet Les Combettes from Etienne Sauzet (Thank you to my Fairy Wine-Father!). We dined for nearly 4 hours! A tear ran down my face as the last sweet amuse bouche was served. On Tuesday I attended an Italian wine tasting hosted at Acquerello. Typically at trade tastings some cheese and bread may be offered, but this being an Italian restaurant, there were also platters of salumi and olives, while small plates with either penne al sugo or truffled risotto were passed. I returned to the store in time to taste through some Bordeaux that a visiting Négociant was pouring for Pete and David. We tasted multiple vintages of Brane Cantenac, Nenin and…Leoville Las Cases! Wipe me off the floor! AND at a staff tasting I got to try the 2013 Ventoux rouge from Fondrèche. OK, I’ll stop, though I could go on. Yep, a very good food and wine week.

– Anya Balistreri

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Spring Forward With Fondrèche Rosé

Friday, March 4, 2016 6:59 PM


Wow!Can it be spring already??!! Seriously,we’re turning the clocks ahead, baseball is being played, NCAA Basketball brackets will be revealed tomorrow, and I’m booking appointments at various Bordeaux chateaux to taste barrel samples of the 2015 vintage;it must be March. Taking a trip like that can be a bit disruptive to my normal schedule and duties around here, so I have much to do before saying bonjour to the folks aboard Air France flight #83! This of course is weighing upon me andmy stress level has ratcheted up just thinking and worrying about all the i’s to dot and t’s to cross. That’s when the little voice in my head says,“Stop. Chill. Relax. Do what you can; take ’em one at a time.”What relaxes me? No need to overthink this one:a nice cool glass of Rosé, now that sounds relaxing.

 

 
 
This past Monday, some bottles were opened for a wholesale customer, and Chris, Tom, David, and I got to sample them after we closed that night. There were Côtes-du-Rhônes, both red and white, some crisp Italian whites, and one Rosé, the 2014 Domaine Fondrèche l’Instant. It’s a hit with both staff and customers in every vintage, as it is always the palest, sleekest Rosé among the range we carry. When it arrived last spring, it was its usual self: pale, with just a hint of salmon tinting, lipsmacking fresh, dry, nice and crisp with mere hints of something resembling a cross between a nectarine and an orange blossom. Those of us who love our Rosés in that Provençal style snapped up the palate of cases in a month or so, and more was ordered. They arrived at the end of January, though with all of the post-holiday going on around here, we didn’t get a chance to re-taste it until last Monday. The verdict?Fantastic. Somehow, it got even better.
 
 
We’re longtime supporters of the wines from Sébastien Vincenti and Nanou Barthélemy’s Domaine Fondrèche. Theyalways represent great value from the southern Rhône’s Ventoux region. For the Rosé, Sébastien blends 50% Cinsault with equal parts Syrah and Grenache, and as I stated, the wine is always clean and crisp. With a little time in the bottle now, it seems to have gained a little complexity. Though still fresh and bone dry, there are nuances of other aromas like pink peppercorns, herbs de Provençe, minerals, and berries. Chris was first to remark of the fact that as good as we expected it to be, it somehow exceeded those expectations. I’ve splurged for some famous Rosés in the past while dining out, and I’ve got to say that none of those fancier Rosé wines are any better than what we had in our glasses last Monday. In fact, I backed that up by passing on the other wines and grabbed what was left in the bottle to have with my dinner later that night. Dinner was delicious indeed, complemented by the cool,crisp Provencal-styled Rosé. There’s something about that sensation that just takes me back to the first time I visited the Côte d’Azur and just chilled in one place for two weeks, pretty much only drinking Rosé. I finished the glass, and guess what? I began to relax.
 
 
The trip to Bordeaux for En Primeur 2015 is still over two weeks away, so I will chime in one more Saturday before I leave. Hopefully the Rosé will do its thing and all will be prepared in a cool, organized fashion. I’m going to grab a bottle to take home so I can relax tomorrow as my to-do list is a big one and I will have one less hour to deal with it. There will be something in knowing that as I’m out dealing with traffic, shopping, and paperwork, there will be a nice, cool, crisp glass of 2014 Fondrèche Rosé waiting for me when I’m done! À Santé! – Pierre Zavialoff
 
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Provençal-styled Rosé, the Côte d’Azur, English Football, or the upcoming 2015 En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux: peter@wineSF.com
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2014 Domaine Fondreche Ventoux Blanc

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 9:25 PM

 
Fondrèche Ventoux Blanc
 
 
TWH has been proudly carrying the wines of Fondrècheever since Sébastien Vincenti joined his mother, Nanou Barthelémy, in making wine at the domaine in the mid-1990’s. Sébastien quickly gained recognition for making some of the finest wines from Ventoux, often scoring 90 points or above in many wine journals, notably The Wine Advocate. Early on, Sébastien became interested in the principle of sustainable farming. He farmed organicallyand adopted many of the ideas of biodynamic farming. Not one to conform, he recently withdrew his organic certification since becoming officially certified in 2009. Sébastien cited that in order to stay true to his philosophy of organic farming he can’t be restricted by rigid rules (if you want to learn more about it, click here).
 
 
Only 4% of the wine production of the Ventoux is white; I’d say that’s pretty miniscule. Fortunately, Fondréche makes a blanc using Grenache, Roussanne and a bit of Clairette and Rolle (aka Vermentino). I’ve been eyeing the2014 Ventoux blanc, which arrived at the end of last year, wanting to take it home to see how it performs with a home-cooked meal. This week I bought a bottle because I was in the mood for a fuller white that would maintain minerality and was not Chardonnay (no offense Chardonnay – I remain a fan forever!). My daughter put in a request for oven fried chicken. I was more than happy to oblige because who doesn’t love super crispy skin and I had a hunch that the 2014 Ventoux blanc would pair well with it.
 
 
The 2014 Ventoux blanc has seductive roasted and smoky aromatic notes. It could lure you into thinking it is Chardonnay, as it did my husband, but once you take a sip, it’s evident that it is something else. The flavors are less apple/pear like Chardonnay and more peach skin and under ripe apricots. The saline finish keeps things fresh and vibrant. Though it paired nicely with the chicken, this wine has enough attack to pair with fish dishes. The Ventoux blanc was aged in barrel for six months which lends it a supple texture and adds complexity. The oak treatment is quite deft, leaving the fruit to do most of the talking. I’ve tasted Chateauneuf du Pape blancs with far less character and verve. The 2014 Ventoux blanc is a very strong value in the context of upper-level Rhône whites.
 
 
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em; so, yes, I’ll be watching Super Bowl 50 with friends at a party. I don’t have a horse in the race, so I’ll mostly be savoring the snacks. The Bay Area has been all a buzz with the impending game for obvious reasons, so to pretend that I can avoid it seems silly. My taste for football has waned in the last decade or so. I think it has something to do with becoming a mother; I can’t bare to see anyone get hurt. That said, watching an NFL football game brings out the worse in me in no time. Before I know it, I’m yelling “get him”, “smash him”, or worse! The adrenaline starts pumping and my normally pacifist self is ready for a fight. I am a much better, gentler person when I watch baseball. Don’t miss kick off!– Anya Balistreri
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