Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Dinner With a Good Rhone

A couple of weeks ago, we received a new label from one our most reliable producers in the Southern Rhone, Fayard from Domaine Fondreche. Located in the Cotes du Ventoux, Fondreche has long been regarded one of the premier producers in the appellation. The young winemaker Sebastien Vincenti is a protege of Andre Brunel of Chateauneuf du Pape fame. Sebastien takes a firm hand in the vineyard where his production typically cames in at half the yields allowed in the appellation, making his wines intensely flavored with rich texture and deep concentration. The blend is pure Southern Rhone, 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah (the high percentage gives the wine its rich body) with the balance Carignan and Mourvedre. Fermentation takes three weeks and the wines stay on the lees for 9 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. The photo shows the old Grenache vines with Mount Ventoux in the background. I remember the house from a watercolor painting on the labels Fondreche bottlings several years ago.

Anyway, to shorten the story I rubbed a porterhouse with a mixture of red chili led by some spicy Chimayo from New Mexico, threw it on the grill, fried some potatos with onions, red pepper in some bacon grease and served it all with a tomato-onion and lettuce dressed with balsamic vinagraitte. Tasted pretty good!

The dark silky smooth wine pulled all the flavors together but still let them stand on their own. The body in the wine comes purely from the dense complexity of the blended grapes. Typical Southern Rhone two-step: rich red and black cherry from the Grenache up front, a touch of funk and complexity from the Carignan and Mouvedre with a little spice from the Syrah, but not enough to clash with the chili.

 In sum: a great wine from a great producer in a great vintage and a great value!

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