Wining and Vining in Vacqueyras


This week, as I have mentioned, I have been staying on the beautiful vineyard of Le Clos de Caveau. Our gite is the most charming Provençal cottage. The kitchen has a lovely terrace off it, which has been lovely for sipping aperitifs and eating while the hens, cats and Flo the German Shepherd wander by. The terrace is surrounded by fig trees laden with fruit and olive trees and is protected from the mistral (a regional wind) which has been blowing keenly, giving some respite from the temperature. The sound of the cicadas gives a unique sense of Provence.

And so to the best part of staying on a vineyard- a wine tasting! I, it must be said, am no wine expert but do appreciate a bit of background information on what I am drinking. Le Clos de Caveau is an organic vineyard in the Vacqueyras appellation, (part of the Côtes du Rhône), nestled between the towns of Vacqueyras and Gigondas. To start with, I had a little tour of the caveau with some guidance on how the wine is made including some interesting nuggets such as the use of only second hand oak barrels from Château Lafite in Bordeaux, that all the grapes are handpicked and the fact that the maceration process is much longer than usual (don’t worry, I won’t get too technical!). This results in full-bodied, soft and smooth wine. To read about the individual wines I tasted, see below.

All the wines are made with a blend of Grenache and Syrah grapes, with slightly different levels of mix. The first I tasted was the 2009 Côtes du Rhône which is produced from vines that have been grown on the other side of a ridge that runs along the side of the vineyard. It is made from 80% Grenache, 20 % Syrah and is a lighter wine which is drinkable young, it has hints of strawberry and cherry on the nose and is good with fish and seafood, maybe mussels. It is well balanced and drinkable alone too.

The second wine I tasted was the Fruit Sauvage 2007 which comes from the valley pictured above. A 75% grenache, 25% syrah blend, this wine was brighter on the nose with a hint of raspberry. A little more tannic and more structured, it was a very nice wine that could be paired with meaty dishes.

The last wine I tasted was by far my personal favourite, the Carmin Brillant 2007, a 65% Grenache, 35% syrah blend. It immediately gave me a sense of the place the grapes had been grown in, with an earthy aroma. The vines these grapes were grown on are older which gives the sense of “terroir” (the French term for a unique sense of place), the minerality the the deeper roots of the older vines produce. The complexity of this wine gave me the most variety of flavours- a slight spicyness, a hint of coco. This would be lovely with meat dishes, chocolaty desserts and strong cheeses. It was also very good with the homemade fig ice cream we had the other night.

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