Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cotes du Ventoux Domaine de la Marotte Vieille Vignes, 2000

If you've ever been to the Southern Rhone tasting wines, you've undoubtedly driven through Carpentras; it's on the road between Gigondas and Orange, on your way to Chateauneuf du Pape. In what was formerly a 16th century monastery in Carpentras, a Dutch couple, Daan and Elvira van Dijkman, have established a winery producing a range of Cotes du Ventoux wines. Elvira tends the vineyards, and Daan makes the wine. The couple also run a bed and breakfast on the property.

Cotes du Ventoux is to the east of Carpentras; to the west is the pancake-flat Plan de Dieu, where some of my favorite Cotes du Rhones such as l'Espigouette, Favard and Vieux Chene originate. Temperatures in Ventoux are cooler than in the Cotes du Rhone, so the wines have lower alcohol, lighter body and color and more structure. In my book, all of those can be pluses, but they are probably the reason that Ventoux wines are priced even lower than Cotes du Rhone--another plus.

This bottle is the last of a case of the 2000 Vieilles Vignes I bought on release. It is beginning to fade a bit but still offers pleasure. The color is similar to the Font-Sane but with more crimson tones. As a 2000, it lacks the lifted menthol quality on the nose but makes up for it with a whiff of black licorice and dark berries. More subtle and subdued in its approach than its 2003 counterpart. On the palate, it's smooth, not as intense as it was three or four years ago but with clean, focused flavors. The winemaker (Daan van Dijkman) recommends drinking this wine at three to five years of age, and I have pushed it past that point...but with little harm done.

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