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

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

At TWH, we’ve been referring to Sébastien Vincenti as the “young winemaker” from Domaine de Fondrèche for quite a while. Here’s the funny thing, Sébastien has been making wine at the domaine for twenty years! His youthful looks aside, Sébastien is one of those ambitious and passionate winemakers who early in his career attached himself to important wine mentors and then took on the challenge of producing exceptional wine in a region that was overlooked and overshadowed by its more famous neighbors. A quick whiff of the 2012 Fayard will instantly orient you to the Rhône with its aromas of ripe berries, dusty herbs, and violets. Well it should, as it is from the Rhône, only not from Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas, but from Ventoux.
 
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Sébastien’s mother, Nanou Barthelémy purchasedDomaine de Fondrèche in 1993. The vineyard is 28 hectares and provides the grapes for their red wine production. The vines are grown on rocky soil over gravel and limestone on a plateau that flanks Mount Ventoux. It really is a prime location for the growing of grapes, especially Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, where the Mistral wind keeps the grapes pristine and cools down temperatures for an optimal, long growing-season.
 
The 2012 Fayard is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and the rest Mourvèdre. The gorgeous red fruit is fresh and vibrant. It is open-knit and drinking superbly at this moment. Unmistakably Rhône-ish, the2012 Fayard has the soft-edged, succulent Fondrèche palate-feel without any of the funkiness it can often have upon release. The 2012 Fayard is raring to go, to delight and share a bit of that Provençal sunshine with each glassful during these wintery dark nights.
 
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It seems a lifetime ago now, but during a trip to France, visiting many of our producers with a large group of wine trade folk, I had a memorable lunch at an auberge where the wines of Domaine de Fondrèche were served. To get to the auberge, you had to drive along a dirt driveway where the animals, that might at some future date be your entrée, were stabled alongside the restaurant. The food was rustic, homey, and for this girl, just the kind of food I like best to eat. The servers also looked like they enjoyed the food they prepared and proudly presented each course family-style. A leg of lamb spit-roasted in the main room’s open fireplace was a favorite dish, but it was the barley salad with sautéed crispy bits of duck gizzards that to this day have me salivating. I can’t remember the exact vintage, but the Fayard poured was perfectly matched to the nuttiness of the grain and the earthiness of the gizzards. I must one day try to re-create this pairing.
 
 
This weekend should also be memorable in The Bay Area. Yep, my daughter will be hosting her first ever sleepover birthday party! And, there is the historic Golden Gate Bridge closure. I am well prepared for both events! Or am I? I am beginning to think that before I depart work today and drive northbound over the Golden Gate one last time before a movable medium will be installed on the bridge, maybe, just maybe, I should tote along a bottle of the 2012 Fayard. Fayard and gizzards, that I know match up, but what about Fayard and a gaggle of chatty eleven-year old girls? Probably should take a bottle…wish me luck!
 
 
 
 
From The Wine Advocate’s issue #210 “A blend of 50% tank-aged Grenache and 30% Syrah and 20% Mourvedre aged in barrel, the 2012 Cotes du Ventoux Fayard (which was the only 2012 I tasted out of bottle) is a gorgeous effort that gives up impressive notes of black raspberry, flowers, violets and pepper. Perfumed, complex and with the hallmark purity of the fruit that all of this estate’s wines show, this medium-bodied, elegant and lively effort has good acidity and a clean finish. Enjoy it over the coming 4-5 years. “ 90 points.

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