France – Provence, Côtes de Provence
Raimond De Villeneuve
Raimond de Villeneuve’s impressively beautiful, biodynamic vineyard is literally situated in an amphitheatre, thus having a very special microclimate. Château de Roquefort is only 50 acres at an altitude of 300 metres, allowing later harvesting, which results in more freshness and greater phenolic maturity, and therefore more complexity than is usual in Provençal wines. They are located on the edge of the Bandol appellation, just over the ridge so mourvedre does not ripen here as well as at Bandol (it is a difficult grape to ripen) so it is not the focus. One third of the vines are over 40 years old, with the rest ranging between 15 and 40. de Villeneuve is young, well-educated, well-travelled and with experience in the trade working for Mommessin in Burgundy. This experience shows in the quality of the wines and the refined beauty of the package. He came back to his old family property in 1995 and began making and bottling wines under the Chateau name; previously the wines were sold in bulk. de Villeneuve is a very open-minded winemaker and taster, always striving for quality and willing to honestly assess his wines. As well, he is always experimenting; he has even planted some cabernet franc. His talent has been recognized by Michel Bettane, calling him one of the finest winemakers in Provence: “incontestably, one of the great hopes of the Côtes de Provence…the wines perfectly combine ample and intense fruit with a rich and silky body. The wines of Roquefort possess a hedonistic character that will make you immediately rejoice.”
This firm, creamy, Provencal white is made from 65% clairette, 35% rolle (vermentino), with just 5% of the fruit barrel-fermented before blending. On the nose are citrus and broom flower aromas, a little like a Bandol blanc. It is both steely and rich, with acidity and minerality riding alongside more citrus, hazelnut and a reticent peachiness, all kept lively by its vivid acidity
‘LE PETIT SALé’
This 100% clairette is early picked to retain maximum freshness and youthful vibrancy (noted also in the 11% alc.). White flowers and white peach flavours dominate the nose and palate. Lively acidity keeps the finish fresh, almost begging for the glass to be filled again. A brilliant ‘bistro’ option.
Comprising of 35% grenache, 25% syrah, 25% cinsault, 10% rolle (vermentino) and 5% clairette. Powerful and driven, it shows all the hallmarks of great food-oriented rosè with lifted floral fragrance, mouth-filling mid palate weight, a succulent core of bright strawberry, raspberry and red currant fruit, and gorgeous texture, finishing beautifully dry and savoury.
‘LES MûRES ROUGE
In terms of volume, “Les Mûres” is the most important red wine from the domaine. It is made from a blend of 40% grenache noir, 25% carignan, 20% syrah, 5% cinsault, 5% mourvedre, and 5% cabernet cauvignon (particularly old vines, which adds a very deep, interesting fruit element). The grapes are hand-harvested mid-October and undergo a four week maceration- vinification on the skins.The wine is a cavernous purple with red fruit aromas, particularly blackberry (hence the name), blueberry and black cherry, predominating aromatic herbs and leather/cinnamon notes. On the palate the deep red fruits continue into plum and spice flavours. Supporting the ripe fruit flavours there are firm, polished tannins in the background.
This powerful, fruit-drenched, levathian red blend is described on the back label by the ever-humorous Villeneuve as, ‘Constellation unique entre Grenache, Syrah et Cinsault… Et blablablablabla….TOUTFOUZINZINFADA, mais quel vin!’ The classification described on the back is ‘Vin de bonne table de France.
GUEULE DE LOUP ROUGE
Gueule-de-Loup means ‘wolf’s mouth’ the name of a common flower in the south of France. This innovative wine is a nonvintage Grenache-dominant ‘biodynamic’ blend of grenache, carignan, cab, 15% syrah and merlot from two vintages!