Monday, October 31, 2011

Chateau de Montfaucon, Cotes du Rhone

I've spoken alot in recent months about building something new; being "brave" as it were and pushing out on one's own to create a future.

   What then would be my adjective for someone who is re-building their family history and creating a new family legacy?

   This is the story with Rudolphe de Pins, current owner and winemaker at Chateau de Montfaucon ( in the Cotes-de-Rhone, southern France. A graduate of UC Davis in California, and then a part of the winemaking team at the prestigious Henschke vineyard in Barossa and Vieux Telegraphe in Ch√Ęteauneuf du Pape, Rudolphe had a mountain of work when he took over Montfaucon in 1995. Luckily for him, a recent ancestor (Baron Louis) was the one who had begun the massive undertaking in the 1800's; renovating the facade of the massive keep and developing the vineyards.

   It fell to Rudolphe, however, to develop the vines to the point where no longer did the family feel they needed to sell their grapes of Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise to other wineries. Rudolphe was determined, and had the training behind him to make his dreams reality. In 1995 Chateau de Montfaucon released it's first vintage in over a century and it was under Rudolphe's leadership.

   Now the original 18 HA of vineyard have grown to over 45, with some vines over 90 years of age. Montfaucon is careful to keep low yields to ensure quality flavor concentration, and the variety of soils and over 15 varietals grown ensure great depth of flavor and layering. If there is one thing that really sets Montfaucon apart from many other wineries however, it is their technique of co-fermentation.

   Co-incidentally, I read today about a winemaker in BC who applies the same techniques and has developed a cult following for the depth of flavor and layering in his wines. Sounds familiar~! Many winemakers when blending different varietals will ferment each one separately and then blend post-fermentation, even after aging. Rudolphe disagrees with this practice:

Rudolphe in the 15th century cellar

 "In order to enhance the balance of the wine, we co-ferment up to five varieties in the same tank. This increases the exchange and integration of different grapes during the important fermentation time. By controlling temperature and time on skins, typically 8 to 14 days, I am looking to extract only soft and silky tannins."

Montfaucon on the map
   What does all of this mean for the wine-drinker: for you the consumer? Rich flavors with approachable tannins and all for a reasonable price. These vineyards are literally across the river from Chateauneuf-du-Pape where the same blend triples in cost, and Rudolphe has the pedigree to charge those kind of prices. But he doesn't.

   He's building something these days. He's building brand recognition. He's building a loyal following of consumers throughout the world. He's building, in other words, a future for his family.

2008 Cotes-du-Rhone, Chateau de Montfaucon
 blend of  Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvedre and Counoise
$22  CAD    **** EXCELLENT VALUE ****

vine age:   average 40 years with some to 90 years
soil type: varied with mainly calcareous pebbelstone on silty sandy soil, soil with clay and sandy soil
fermentation: co-fermentation typically 8 to 14 days
maturation:   18 months in concrete and French oak
  • visual:   clear; dark plum core with slight cherry rim (faintest tint of brick)
  • nose:   clean; medium+ to fully intense developing aromas of blackberry, red and black raspberry, rich earthy background, lifted dark florals from the Mourvedre, bruised plums
  • palate:    clean; dry, moderate (very well balanced raspberry/cranberry) acids, moderate+ (well integrated and velvety) tannins, moderate+ alcohol (13.5%), moderate body, moderate+ intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose with emphasis on rich berry notes and warm earthy background. Excellent balance and structure with long length
  • conclusion:   whilst drinking well now, this wine can age gracefully for several years yet will not develop appreciably
  • FOOD PAIRING:   rich Cotes-de-Rhone pairs well with duck and game meats; always has and always will. This wine is no exception. Consider bergamot smoked duck breast over chorizo fried "dirty" rice with sweet pea-spinach emulsion and candied cranberries

   This wine is a wonderful way to become acquainted with Cotes-de-Rhone flavors and aromas. Indeed, if it were up to me this would be required tasting for all aspiring wine stewards. It's not a terribly complicated wine but, in fact, that works in favor of the new wine-drinker. What a deliciously easy-drinking way to be introduced to this regions flavors. This is a typical blend made with a-typical care and attention to detail for the price. Are you more experienced with the region and the flavors? Then enjoy something that is Chateauneuf-du-pape quality and uses the same varietals but for one-third the price~!

   This is the entry level wine for Rudolphe de Pins and Chateau de Montfaucon. The world of wine should be taking notice.

As always I welcome your comments and questions.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

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