(2020) Fondrèche selects the very best parcels of Syrah (90%) and Mourvèdre for this cuvée, grown on their rocky, limestone soils. It is matured for 12 months in a combination of smaller barriques and large foudres. It's white partner too, the Persia Blanc, is also outstandingly good, and also available from Cadman Fine Wines. It has a gorgeous amalgam of supple, elegant black fruit and earthiness, a sprinkle of pepper on the nose. In the mouth it's a very grown-up style of wine: plenty of bittersweet plum and cherry, but a stripe of meaty tannin and pert, bright acidity giving the overall balance of a structured but fruity wine. £17.99 as part of a mixed six. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2020) A blend of Roussanne (90%) and Clairette, the colour is straw yellow touched with gold, partly the product of barrel ageing and time on the lees, this top white from Fondreche has a really beautiful nose, hints of almond nougat and faint toast, but clear, saline character tempered with ripe pear and buttery peach. In the mouth full textured and mouth-filling, but it has that clarity and intense concentration of leesy but taut fruit, that streaking pithy lemon and salts acidity and a long, beautifully tapering finish. Really very good indeed. £16.99 as part of a mixed six.
(2020) This top white from Domaine de Fondrèche is mostly Roussanne, with 10% Clairette in the blend. It is aged for a year in larger oak barrels, and comes from Fondrèche's sustainably managed vineyards in the Ventoux. There's a hint of gold to the colour suggesting richness, the nose invitingly deep and fruity, plenty of Ogen melon and peach, but something taut and firm too, just delicate background hints of flowers and herbs and a little buttery character. In the mouth it is a concentrated, intense mouthful of white wine, a fruit skins grip to the acids and touch of tannin, the very juicy apple and stone fruit mid-palate swept up in saline acidity to the finish. The oak is barely perceptible, just adding some weight and creaminess of texture.
(2020) Based on 50% Cinsault with Syrah and Grenache, this Rhône rosé is a full-flavoured and full bodied rendition, but not without delicacy. The colour is pale and attractive, the nose has a little confiture and watercolour paintbox lift, and the dry palate loads of small, dry, raspberry and reducurrant fruit flavours, sliced by fresh lemony acidity with a little salty edge into the finish.
(2020) What a lovely rosé from Ventoux in the Rhône Valley, a blend of 50% Cinsault with 25% each of Syrah and Grenache. It's pale in colour and had beautifully lifted floral, watercolour paintbox and bright kirsch aromas, so bright, elegant and vivacious. In the mouth the 12.5% alcohol early-picking is obvious with a little flinty, sulphide note adding intrigue and the fresh but juicy and substantial weight of dry redcurrant and cherry fruit behind, the pert acidity perfectly judged. A very nice style this, gastronomic and mouth-watering, yet vivid and flavourful.
(2020) A blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Cinsault and 10% Syrah from 25-year-old vines, this is a medium peachy-pink colour and has an overtly fruity nose, pomegranate and redcurrant, small and little peppery berries. In the mouth there is weight, richness and texture, plenty of summery, mixed berries character along with a cool, clean acid balance to finish on a savoury note.
(2019) From the fine Rhône appellation of Ventoux, this is a blend of 70% Grenache with Syrah in a forward, fulsome style that lovers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape will appreciate. But there's a beautiful violet and cracked black pepper elegance on the nose too, copious black fruits, a real lift suggesting kirsch, and blue/black intensity of fruit. On the palate the wine bursts with concentrated fruit: tangy and dark plum and plum skins, blueberry and damson, definite ripeness and power, but again there is elegance in the fine but grippy tannins that add a pleasing roughening edge to all that smooth fruit. Good acidity balances and freshens, extending the finish and promising a bit of longevity for this if you can cellar for five to eight years. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2019) A typical blend of grape varieties from this area that is a southern extension of the Rhône Valley, this is made up of 35% Roussanne, 30% Grenache Blanc, 15% Vermentino, 15% Marsanne and 5% Viognier. There's gentle pear and a little boiled sweet, cold ferment character, then a touch of mint leaf of basil. In the mouth there is plenty of sweet peachy fruit in a wine that is light, arguably a touch dilute, but then that does aid the freshness and ensure it avoids the blowsy tendency of those southern varieties, the juicy lemon acidity balancing well into the finish. A highly quaffable, lowish alcohol wine that's perfect for drinking this summer. In Lidl stores as part of their 'wine tour', spring 2019. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) In search of a moderately-priced wine to recommend for Christmas dinner 2019, I tried various rather disappointing Pinot Noir wines at around the £10 - £12 mark, but this unpretentious Côtes du Rhône hit the spot - and is only £8.99 on Majestic's familiar 'Mixed six' pricing. Based on Grenache blended with typical local varieties like Syrah and Mourvèdre, it has a buoyant, cherry and herb-filled nose with lots of lift and brightness. In the mouth it is medium-bodied and softly approachable despite 14% alcohol, but there's a creaminess and chocolate-touched depth before that fresh red fruit character and nip of rustic tannin kick in. Gentle enough for roast turkey, but fine for goose or even roast beef if that's your festive choice.
(2018) From the traditional rosé stronghold of Tavel, very close to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is a deeply-coloured and quite serious pink made from Grenache and Syrah that’s so unlike the in-vogue pale Provençal style, yet is quite marvellous: crammed with cherry and ripe red berries, there’s a creaminess to the flavour and texture and the little nip of tannin and focused acidity give it structure and length too. Excellent with an Italian fennel sausage casserole perhaps? On offer at time of review for £11.75.