The last bottle I had of this wine was so bad that I decided to use this for the broth of beef bourguigogn. I had poured nearly half the bottle into the pot before I discovered that this wine was too good to waste--even in beef bourguigogn.
No slam is intended against Font-Sane. It is one of my favorite estates; I buy the Font-Sane Gigondas when I can afford it for special occasions and often buy a case of the Ventoux for every day drinking (it's usually $8 to $10/bottle). The Peyssons have 25 acres in Gigondas and 10 in Ventoux which have been in the family for many generations. The vines are 40 to 60 years old and well situated. The Peysson family always sold their wine in bulk to negotiants and other estates until Gilbert started the Font-Sane label some years ago. His daughter, Veronique Peysson-Cunty now makes the wine, and vignerons in Gigondas (who are mostly male and every bit as clubby as those in Chinon) agree that she is making some of the best wine of the appellation. They say she brings to her wines a feminine charm that is often missing from the sometimes rustic wines of Gigondas.
My slam is against the 2003 vintage in the Rhone--certainly not among my favorites. The summer was very warm in 2003, producing fatter, bigger wines that are closer to what New World wine drinkers in the United States and Australia expect. Robert Parker gave very high ratings to many Chateauneufs from 2003, and their prices soared. Many lovers of traditional Chateauneuf du Pape (myself included) did not agree. The 2003s all seem to have a lifted, minty high-pitched quality to the nose that I don't like. I dislike the sweet, raisined quality and miss some of the peppery spiciness I expect from Southern Rhone wines.
When I first tasted it, the Font-Sane Cotes du Ventoux was the very best of all the 2003s I had tried, so I bought a half case. As time passed, however, the wine seemed to be getting worse, and by bottle No. 5, it had become almost undrinkable. That's why bottle #6 was destined for the stew.
As I poured, the aroma kept wafting up to me, and it was pretty darn good. Mmmmm. I poured out a half glass. Still some bitterness because of the overly cool cellar temperature but some redeeming qualities. By the time the wine warmed enough to show its stuff, half the bottle was in the pot. But no more. The rest of the boeuf bourguigogne had to settle for the Railway Shiraz.
The color is medium deep and dark with some maturation notes. Even though this wine has about 40 percent Syrah, it is much lighter than the Australian Shiraz, mainly because it has not been raised in new oak. The nose is what sets it apart: it leaps from the glass with bright, fresh cherry and red berry aromas. Some menthol too but just the right touch. This Ventoux seems to just be coming into its prime. Flavors confirm the bouquet. Lovely cherry/berry charm with hints of Gigondas power and beauty. Still one of my favorite '03s.
And the beef bourguigogn was very good as well--all the better for the Font-Sane charm.