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Sunday, March 23, 2008

On the lookout....cotes du ven....who?

Philippe Gimel is producing some exciting Ventoux wines that have already achieved mini-cult status amongst New York City sommeliers and retailers alike (the ’04 Red was just highlighted on Gary Vaynerchuk’s latest Wine Library TV videoblog). At 20 dollars and change, he’s producing some of the pricier wines in the region, but is already easily exceeding the quality that his relatively ambitious price tags suggest. For those on the lookout for a new region, producer or simply an intriguing change of pace that delivers value, the wines of Saint Jean du Barroux deserve to be on your radar screen.

Saint Jean du Barroux’s wines are unfined and imported by none other than Eric Solomon.

Saint Jean du Barroux Cotes du Ventoux White Whine, 2005
I believe this is the first vintage of white wine that Philippe Gimel has released and is an esoteric blend of 34% Grenache Blanc, 33% Bourboulenc and 33% Clairette (with the exception of Grenache Blanc, this white is composed of all blending grapes!). Cropped at 25 hl/hectare in stony, Provence soils, this white is aged for one year in 2/3rds barrel, w/ the rest in tank. This green/gold hued wine is full of green tea, persimmon, dried honey, orange zest and hot stone notes that permeate the senses a la dry Chenin Blanc. The entry is exceptionally bright and mineral driven but the body rounds out nicely to give the palate great equilibrium. As the wine sits in the glass, white currants and a meatier profile begins emerge (almost more suggestive of a red wine texture). Fans of Savennieres (and aged Riesling perhaps) should enjoy this idiosyncratic Rhone white and I’d love to see how this ages. Philippe suggests decanting his white for 3 hours and I imagine this wine will only become more sauvage in time, 89+ points.

Saint Jean du Barroux L’Oligocene, 2004
The red from Gimel is made from 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Carignan and 5% Cinsault and pushes a heady 15% alcohol content. The yields for the red are even smaller (20 hl/hectare) than the white and the grapes are hand picked, 100 percent de-stemmed and aged 23 months in tank and neutral barrels. This deep ruby/purple colored red is full of licorice, smoky slate, dark cherries, liqueur soaked garrigue, bacon grease and forest floor notes. A rich and tannic entry lead to a fat, silky palate of pure raspberry fruit that lets the fine, juicy beam of minerality sail in (must be due to the stony soils). This is a substantial, finely endowed effort that should evolve effortlessly (it gained in depth, concentration and intensity in the glass) and provide pleasure over the next 10 years, 92+ points.

Do not take these wines lightly! Either of which should prove to be a fascinating blind ‘ringer’ in just about any tasting, as the white is sure to baffle and the red is dressed to impress. More information about this operation can be found at: Click Me


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