Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Domaine de Font Sane Cotes du Ventoux, 2005

When I last opened a bottle of this wine, it was mid-summer [July 24, 2008], and I described it as a perfect wine to drink in the backyard because "it smells like a herb garden surrounded by flowers in bloom." A hummingbird found the deep crimson wine as attractive as I did and considered dive bombing the glass. In late February, at the end of a long, cold winter, Domaine de Font Sane Cotes du Ventoux is equally appealing and a good match for the Asian spices blended so skillfully by Chef John Tsui of Chin Chin Asian restaurant in Mattawan, MI. (The meal was ordered take-away, and the wine was from my cellar rather than the restaurant wine list.)

Most Cotes du Ventoux wines are Cotes du Rhone look-alikes, although the smells and flavors of Ventoux have a unique cool-climate freshness and focus. As a blend of Grenache and Syrah, Font Sane is a bit firmer in the middle and more serious in its ambitions than, say, La Vieille Ferme. The Syrah is showing more strongly tonight than it was last July, and it's very finely delineated cool climate Syrah. Grenache strawberry and Syrah black raspberry--ripe and mouthwatering. An elegant, classy wine tonight with a bit less garrigue than I remember from last summer and a few more Asian spices. The tannins are there for backbone but they let the fruit flow freely. Long, long finish.

The 2006 version of the Font Sane Cotes du Ventoux is now on sale at Village Corner in Ann Arbor for $8.99 to members of the Ann Arbor Wine Club. I just bought my six bottles this afternoon and am looking forward to seeing what the 2006 vintage has in store.


  1. What exactly do you mean about the cold climate Syrah in the Cotes du Ventoux, Fred? Is Cotes du V. like a Villages designation?

  2. Actually, I meant "cool" rather than cold. Mont Ventoux is a mountain (2,000m) just to the east of Gigondas, and it's cooler than the flatter land to the west. It also has a poor limestone soil that is very good for growing wine grapes.

    Ventoux wines are considered fruity, easy-to-understand wines. (Maybe that's why I like them so much.) As a result, they are generally less expensive even than simple Cotes du Rhone and certainly not ranked with CDR Villages.

    As you might guess from my posts, I have a thing for Ventoux wines and Font Sane in particular. The fruit, I feel, is well defined and the wine has more depth and complexity than the price suggests. La Vieille Ferme is another favorite.

  3. I've been pretty impressed with Vielle Ferme the last few years. I'll look for the Font Sane as well.

    I've never quite understood why Syrah is considered a cooler weather grape in France, yet the Core Rotie is so highly prized. Isn't that like the French Mojave or something?

  4. Cote Rotie means "roasted slopes," but they are roasted by sunshine, not hot weather. The hilly area north of Valreas (the Northern Rhone) is much cooler than most of the flatter area south of Valreas (Southern Rhone). But even the Southern Rhone is moderate compared, say, to Missouri. Mojave Desert? No.

    And there are certain areas of the Southern Rhone that are relatively cool--such as Gard (to the west of Orange) and the hills of Ventoux east of Gigondas.

    I may sound more authoritative about the geography and climate of france than I really am. Even though I have traveled in that area twice, most of my knowledge is second hand (from wine writers, etc.)