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

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


2012 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Cuvée Persia

 
Well, that’s a little more like it. Our typical summer in SF weather is back, just in time to shroud The Outside Lands concerts with nature’s air conditioning, known around here as Karl The Fog. Despite the atypical weather patterns that we have been enduring this year, the summer fog is something we can depend on! Not all is lost. If one prefers sunshine and warmer weather, just head north, east, or south some 10 miles or more, and you’ll find some. In keeping things cool, the fog does enable us to add a category to our wine drinking options: Red wine. It’s good to have options, and after being tantalized by a photo posted today by Olivier’s Butchery, I opt to indulge in their grill-ready hanger steak. Hmmm. What to drink with it? I recently had a fine tasting experience with the dregs of a bottle of 2012 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Cuvée Persia that went out on sales calls for a day. It’s time to call one of my food & wine pals and pop a bottle!
 
 

Domaine Fondrèche is not a newcomer, nor a stranger to me. I have enjoyed many of winemaker Sébastien Vincenti’s wines over the years, their reflections of place and their purity of fruit have had a place at my table since my beginnings here at TWH. To me,Sébastien’s Cuvée Persia has always been a big, big fancy wine that needed something substantial on the plate to stand up to it. So after a long day here at the shop, out popped 7 or so sample bottles that were poured for wholesale accounts, and Tom, Chris, and I headed for the tasting room to see how they were showing. There were Rosés, a bottle of white, and 3 different 2012 cuvées of Fondrèche. I knew going in that, of the reds, I wanted to taste the Cuvée Persia last. That’s what experience will do for you. Short of appetizers, let alone a well seasoned, grilled hanger steak, I was preparing myself for another big, youthful vintage of the Persia. I was in for a surprise. I found the sample rather giving and expressive. It’s still a big wine, and yes, the grilled hanger steak will help, but it was beaming with complexity! So much so, that despite the weather on that particular evening, I was going to drink red. It’s not in the Tuesday night wine price category, but if you consider what the well-known fancy producers around the Rhône Valley get for their wines, there is tremendous value here.

Here is what The Wine Advocate’s Jeb Dunnuck had to say about the 2012 Cuvée Persia: The 2012 Ventoux Persia is Syrah dominated, yet incorporates 10% Mourvèdre. It’s aged half in small barrels and the balance in a mix of concrete and foudre. Silky, fabulously polished and full-bodied, it gives up lots of cassis, black raspberry, roasted meats and graphite. While it’s upfront and supple, it will evolve gracefully on its purity and balance. 91 points”

 
Having lived in the SF Bay Area all my life, I have always appreciated the summer fog, for if things get too warm (I begin to melt at around 73F), I can always head back into the thick of it for a little relief. And hey, if it gets me grilling and popping amazing red wine, all the better! – Peter Zavialoff

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