Friday, June 14, 2019

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine La Martinelle in Lafare, Ventoux, Southern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker Corinna Kruse Faravel - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Pictures: Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine La Martinelle in Lafare, Ventoux, Southern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker Corinna Kruse Faravel - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Domaine La Martinelle in Lafare, Ventoux, Southern Rhône, is located on the other side of the Dentelle from Gigondas and Vacqueras. It was founded in 2002 by Corinna Faravel.

Corinna was our host. Following an exciting cellar tour, including a punch-down exercise, if you were up to it, we tasted her wines in the cellar, both from bottle and barrel.

Corinna has been making white wine in Germany’s Nahe region, but was always interested in making red wine, so she came to the Rhône Valley. Love made her stay (she is married to Thierry Faravel of Domaine La Bouissière) and in 2001 she founded Domaine La Martinelle.

Pictures: The Dentelles de Montmirail

Ths domaine has 12 hectares of vineyard holdings on a series of small, terraced hillsides that run from 810 to 900 feet in altitude. Soils are a mix of limestone (like Burgundy, thus finesse), clay (contributes body and volume) and gypsum (good for soil fertilization; probably a result of volcanic activity from the Ventoux). While much of the Ventoux is located on alluvial lowlands, this mountainous eastern corner is widely held as the highest-quality growing area of the entire appellation. The regional ‘mistral,’ or cold northern winds from the Alps, rushes through these valleys in the summer months, keeping temperatures cool. The vineyards’ altitude works to extend the growing season, with harvest often in late September through early October.

Pictures: Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine La Martinelle in Lafare, Ventoux, Southern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker Corinna Kruse Faravel

Corinna Faravel

Corinna Faravel: In 2002, I purchased the vineyards that would become the heart of my estate in the southern Rhône Valley.

After a rough start – losing two complete vintages – I slowly built up the estate, selling some vineyards and buying new ones, and completing the construction of a cellar, carved into a rocky hillside outside the small hamlet of Lafare. Certain vineyards were replanted, and new, yet traditional, Mediterranean grape varieties introduced. The estate received official organic certification in 2015.

Martinelle wines should reflect the vintage and the land, with flavors that show the power and richness of local grape varieties in harmony with a southern definition of freshness and elegance of which they are inherently capable.

There is not one true way to make wine. For me, it has always been a question of finding balance – a fluid goal that requires regular, careful observation both in the fields and cellar. Nature communicates, and it is our responsibility to listen.

And after all the work is done, wine is to be opened and enjoyed! Martinelle is my way of expressing this essential joie de vivre, with wine the inspiration for bringing people together – a truth I learned as a child from my parents and have carried with me ever since.

Pictures: Cellar Tour

Vineyards at Altitude

Martinelle occupies 11.5 hectares on the eastern slopes of the imposing limestone cliffs of the Dentelles de Montmirail. The landscape is marked by steep hills, and vineyards share space with olive and pine trees with aromatic herbs growing among vineyard rows.

All my vines are planted on southeast-facing terraces, which meet the sun the moment it crests over Mount Ventoux, and yet are protected from the afternoon’s intense heat.

Vines are cared for according to organic principles, and the estate was officially certified by Ecocert in 2015.

Pictures: Punshing-down

Ventoux

The Martinelle vineyard is my “monopole,” a contiguous 8.5-hectare plot, the centerpiece of which are terraces that cascade from 300 meters at the summit to 270 meters in altitude.

Decomposed limestone here mixes with subsoils of clay and gypsum, a combination that is rocky and nutrient-poor; the clay helps the soil retain water, preventing hydric stress even in the warmest and driest of years.

Some 5.5 hectares are planted to Grenache, 1.8 hectares to Syrah and Petite Serine, and the rest to Mourvèdre and Counoise. I also have a half-hectare of Clairette here, for my Ventoux Blanc.

Pictures: Tasting at Domaine La Martinelle with Owner/ Winemaker Corinna Kruse Faravel

Beaumes de Venise

The vineyard Bramadou forms a natural “clos,” surrounded entirely by pine, oak and olive trees, at 330 meters in altitude. It totals 2.85 hectares, with 1.4 hectares planted to Grenache and one-hectare to Syrah.

My vines, from 30 to nearly 50 years old, grow on soils from the Triassic geological period, created between 200 to 230 million years ago. These soils bring together decomposed limestone and gypsum, the soil’s high iron content giving it a ruddy, orange-red hue.

Unique in the Rhône Valley, these soils, which are usually found deep below the surface, break through on the eastern side of the Dentelles de Montmirail, exactly where Bramadou is located.

The Wines we Tasted

We tasted 5 wines.


2017 Domaine Martinelle Ventoux Blanc

In the Martinelle vineyard, my Clairette vines (planted in 2007 and 2013) grow at altitude, facing east, on limestone soils. For this late-ripening, native southern grape, a chance to reach its full potential…as a single-varietal wine. Mediterranean-inspired freshness, ripe fruit, herbal notes and balanced alcohol – this is a true southern white wine!


2009 Domaine Martinelle Ventoux Rouge

Martinelle is both the name of my first vineyard and my winery. It also represents what’s most important to me as a winemaker – to create a wine that provides pleasure while telling an interesting story about the land. It is an invitation to explore these northern Provençal hills, amid the scents of lavender and thyme, in good company. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Counoise.


2016 Domaine Martinelle Beaumes de Venise

This small-production cru wine comes from vines grown in a natural oasis of olive and pine trees, spiced with the aromas of wild thyme and rosemary. The ruddy, iron-rich soils at this special site are unique not only in the appellation but in the Rhône Valley. A blend of Grenache and Syrah.


2015 Domaine Martinelle Vin de Table – Le 15ème

My Vin de Table is a tribute to the vibrant character of southern red grapes and their endless potential. This is a wine that talks to me personally, showing me the heights that the soulful combination of Grenache and Syrah can achieve. Just as the top Champagne houses craft vintage wines only in the best years, I bottle my Vin de Table only when I feel the vintage is exceptional. It is a wine that should be cellared and shared in the best company.

Vintage 2015 is an exceptional vintage for the region. After a mild winter and spring, summer was hot and dry; yet a few rainstorms in July and August kept vines from suffering from a lack of water and helped grapes ripen evenly. The harvest was trouble-free, and fruit perfectly healthy. In short, everything a winemaker could ask for! 2015 is marked by its ripeness of fruit, its suave tannins and length; this is a vintage that offers immediate pleasure while at the same time, has resulted in wines that should age with grace for a number of years.

Harvest September 19 and October 1. Yields 25 hl/ha. Blend 34% Grenache, 33% Syrah and 33% Mourvèdre. Vines cared for organically. Grapes sorted in the fields and in the cellar. Lightly crushed, and fed into unlined cement tanks by gravity. Fermented on indigenous yeasts. Gentle extraction, with lees stirring. Aged for ten months in unlined cement egg. Bottled (unfined and unfiltered) in August 2016. 400 bottles (750ml) 120 magnums (1.5L)


2018 Domaine Martinelle Ventoux Rouge (from tank)


Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France (Already Released and Forthcoming Postings)

Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Rhône Valley Tour December 2017: From Lyon to Avignon - Wine, Food, Culture, History

Understanding the Wines of the Rhône Valley: The Classification - AOC/ Vin de Pay/ Vin de France

The Rhône Wine Region in Southern France and its Wines: History, Classification, Northern and Southern Rhône

Cellar Tasting, including from Barrel, at Domaine Éric Texier in Charney, with Laurence Texier - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Dinner at Le Bouchon des Filles in Lyon - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Dinner at a Bouchon - Chez Paul - in Lyon: Schiller’s Favorite Bouchons in Lyon, France

Cellar Tour, Tasting and Vineyard Drive at E. Guigal in Ampuis, Côte Rôtie, Northern Rhône - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Tasting at Maison Clusel-Roche in Ampuis, Côte Rôtie, Northern Rhône - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Tasting at Domaine Georges Vernay in Condrieu, Northern Rhône, with Owner Paul Ansellem-Vernay - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Dinner at Hôtellerie Beau Rivage in Condrieu, with Chef Chef Ludovic Mounier - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Maison Delas-Frères in Saint Jean de Muzols, Saint Joseph, Northern Rhône - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Lunch at Restaurant La Grappe d’Or in Saint-Péray, with Chef Pierre Yves Jacques Sébastien - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Tasting at Vins Jean-Luc Colombo in Cornas, Northern Rhône - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Vineyard Walk and Tasting at Paul Jaboulet Aîné in Tain-l’Hermitage, Hermitage, Northern Rhône - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Cellar Tasting at Domaine Laurent Habrard in Gervans, Crozes-Hermitage, Northern Rhône, with Owner and Winemaker Laurent Habrad - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Combier in Pont de l’Isère, Crozes-Hermitage, Northern Rhône, with Laurent Combier - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Lunch at La Grand Table de Michel Chabran, 1-star Michelin, in Pont d l’Isère, Northern Rhône, with Chef Michel Chabran - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Les Bruyères in Beaumont-Monteux, Northern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker David Reynaud - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine La Martinelle in Lafare, Ventoux, Southern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker Corinna Kruse Faravel - Rhône Valley Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Culture and History, France

Lunch at Restaurant Le Mesclun in Séguret, Southern Rhône

Cellar Tour and Tasting, including from Barrel, at Domaine Marcel Richaud in Cairanne, Southern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker Claire Richaud

Tasting at Domaine de Cabasse, Séguret, Southern Rhône, with Owner/ Winemaker Benoit Baudry

Wine Dinner at Restaurant Hôtel Domaine de Cabasse, Séguret, Southern Rhône

Lunch at Restaurant Le Dolium in Beaumes-de Venise, Southern Rhône

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting of Wine and Olive Oil at Mas Saint Berthe, Les Baux de Provence, Southern Rhône, with Winemaker Christian Nief

Dinner at Restaurant Benvengudo, Les Baux de Provence, Southern Rhône

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine du Pegau in Châteauneuf du Pape, with Owner/ Winemaker Laurence Féraud and Cellar Master Andreas Lenzenwöger

At Pont du Gard: Lunch at Restaurant Les Terrasses

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine de la Mordorée, Tavel, Southern Rhône, with Owner Ambre Delorme

Cellar tour and tasting at Domaine La Bastide Saint Dominique in Courthézon, Châteauneuf du Pape, with Owner Véronique Bonnet and Owner/ Winemaker Eric Bonnet

Tasting at the Caveau of the Perrin Family in Châteauneuf du Pape

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Château la Nerthe, Châteauneuf du Pape

Wine-pairing dinner at Restaurant Château des Fines Roches, with Chef Hugo Loridan-Fombonnet

New Year’s Eve at Château des Fines Roches in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France   

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Virginia's Best Wines: 2019 Virginia Governor's Cup Competition, USA

Pictures: Horton Vineyards was Named the Virginia Governor’s Cup Winner. Photos by Jay Paul Photography

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam awarded the 2019 Virginia Wineries Association’s (VWA) Governor's Cup to Horton Vineyards for their 2016 Petit Manseng at the 2019 Governor’s Cup Gala. The Gala took place Tuesday evening, February 26, at the Main Street Station in Richmond, Virginia.

All wines competing in the Governor’s Cup competition must be made from 100 percent Virginia fruit. The Petit Manseng marks Horton’s first Governor’s Cup winning wine.

“It is my pleasure to award this honor to Sharon Horton and her entire winery and vineyard team, including winemakers Michael Heny and Andrew Reagan,” said Governor Northam. “Horton Vineyards is among Virginia’s true wine pioneers renowned for first growing many of the varieties that have taken hold in Virginia. In addition to the winning wine, the eleven wines included in the 2019 Governor’s Cup Case highlight the outstanding quality of wines being produced within our Commonwealth.”

Horton Vineyards’ 2016 Petit Manseng is composed of 90 percent Petit Manseng, 5 percent Viognier and 5 percent Rkatsiteli grapes. The wine is 100 percent estate-grown including their Berry Hill vineyard fruit. All fruit was hand-harvested and underwent whole cluster press. Fermentation occurred in 90 percent French oak and 10 percent stainless steel. Tasting notes state that the wine shows intensity and an explosion of flavors across the palate with a lingering acidic finish.

“This year’s case winner is especially exciting for both Horton Vineyards and the Virginia wine industry as a whole,” commented Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “It is rare for a white wine to win the Governor’s Cup and it is the first time a Petit Manseng has been the overall winner. Also significant is that three of the wines in this year’s case are made with Petit Manseng grapes. This underscores a reoccurring pattern of many outstanding wines in Virginia being produced from lesser known varietals.”

The case is comprised of the top 12 scoring wines chosen from more than 500 entries coming from 102 wineries. The esteemed panel of judges was directed by Jay Youmans – one of only 51 Masters of Wine (MW) in the U.S. The panel diligently ranked each wine according to a unified scoring system.

Picture: Annette Schiller with Yay Youmans.MW

Alongside Horton Vineyards’ 2016 Petit Manseng, the 11 wines included in the 2019 Governor’s Cup Case are:

Barboursville Vineyards 2017 Vermentino Reserve
Early Mountain Vineyards 2016 Eluvium
Glen Manor Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Franc
King Family Vineyards 2016 Mountain Plains
King Family Vineyards 2016 Meritage
Paradise Springs Winery 2015 Meritage
Virginia Wine Works 2016 Hamlet Vineyards Eltham
Virginia Wine Works 2016 Michael Shaps Petit Manseng
Virginia Wine Works 2016 Michael Shaps Raisin d’Etre White
Virginia Wine Works 2015 Michael Shaps Tannat
Virginia Wine Works 2014 Upper Shirley Zachariah

Within the case, there is wide representation from all parts of the state including Central, Northern, Southern and Eastern Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley. This broad geographical diversity highlights Virginia winemakers’ ability to listen to their land and navigate the state’s varied landscape and conditions.

Virginia winemakers have developed a fluency in reading the signs from their soil and growing distinctive varietals that have found a home in Virginia. A testament to this is the variety of wines in this year’s case: three Petit Mansengs, a Tannat, a Cabernet Franc, a Vermentino and six red blends.

Now in its 36th year, the competition is a result of a partnership among the gubernatorial-appointed Virginia Wine Board (VWB), the Virginia Vineyards Association (VVA), and the VWA, which owns and manages the competition. Any wine made from 100 percent Virginia fruit was eligible for the competition, while ciders and fruit wines had their own category and medalists. All entries included an affidavit with a certification of 100 percent Virginia fruit and vineyard particulars, including grower names and location.

According to a 2017 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 8,200 people and contributes almost $1.37 billion to the Virginia economy on an annual basis. Nationwide, Virginia is in the top six states in number of wineries and wine grape production. More than 2.2 million tourists visited Virginia wineries in 2015.

Pictures: Annette and Christian Schiller with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at the Virginia Governor's Cup Gala 2017. See: See: Virginia's Best Wines: 2017 Governor‘s Cup Gala in Richmond, Virginia, USA

Wine Producer Virginia

Virginia is the 5th largest wine industry in the US, with nearly 300 wineries and over 3,500 acres of vineyards. In the original charter of the thirteen colonies was a royal commission to pursue three luxury items that England was unable to provide for itself: wine, silk, and olive oil. Every colony made attempts to satisfy the requirements of its charter. Despite many years of failure, the early Americans persisted in their efforts. A big step forward was made in 1740 when a natural cross pollination occurred between a native American grape and a European vitis vinifera. Other successful crossings followed.

In 1762, John Carter, who had 1,800 vines growing at Cleve Plantation, sent 12 bottles to the Royal Society of Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce in London for their evaluation. Minutes of their meeting on the 20th of October 1762 declared Carter’s wines to be “excellent” and a decision was taken to reward Carter’s efforts with a gold medal for his wines. These were the first internationally recognized fine wines produced in America.

Picture: Virginia

Over the past 30 years or so, Virginia wines have experienced a tremendous development - to elegant and balanced, mostly European vinifera-based wines. Recently, Donald Trump as well as AOL founder Steve Case bought a Virginia winery.

Today, the vitis vinifera grapes Chardonnay and Viognier are the leading white varieties. Increasingly they are made without any or with neutral oak, to retain natural acidity and freshness. It appears Viognier is on its way to becoming Virginia’s official “signature grape”.

Picture: Christian Schiller and Frank Morgan of Virginia Live Chat. See: Virginia Wine Chat “Live” with Frank Morgan at Breaux Vineyards, Virginia, USA

For French-American hybrid varieties, Seyval Blanc is still popular, but resembles now the fresh and crisp wines from France’s South West. Vidal has become the backbone of the artificially frozen (cryoextraction), ice wine which I am not a great fan of. Cryoextraction is an approach, developed by the French, which kind of simulates the frost in the vineyard in the wine cellar.

Picture: Annette Schiller and Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post

As far as red wines are concerned, there has been a shift from straight varietal wines to blends, with the blends now being dominated by Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Mirroring the Virginia white wines, there is an increasing focus on neutral oak and clean, vibrant fruit.

Tannat, Uruguay’ signature grape from the South West of France, is showing up in more Virginia wines, usually as a blend. The only red French American hybrid which has performed consistently well in Virginia is Chambourcin, which resembles the Gamay grape of Beaujolais.

Finally, Claude Thibault, a native from France, has taken Virginia sparkling wines to a new level. His NV Thibault-Janisson Brut, made from 100 percent Chardonnay, is as close as you can get to Champagne outside of France.

Virginia Wines in Germany

Annette and Christian Schiller already presented 2 Virginia Governor's Cup Cases - 2016 and 2017 - in Germany. Both tastings took place in Frankfurt.

Virginia Governor's Cup Case 2016

The first tasting - of the 2016 case - took place in 2017 and included Riesling and German wine expert Stuart Pigott, star winemaker Uwe Lützkendorf, Wolgang Junglas, President of  FIJEV (International Federation of Wine and Spirits Journalists and Writers), wine retailer Armin Busch, wine tour organizer Annette Schiller and myself. See: Tasting the Best of Virginia Wines in Frankfurt, Germany, with Stuart Pigott: Virginia Governor's Cup Case 2016

Though Stuart Pigott is mostly known as Riesling and German wine expert, the by far most comprehensive assessment of the wines of Virginia recently is the in-depth article by Stuart Pigott on JamesSuckling.com in 2017. For an introduction go to Stuart Pigott's website.

Pictures: Tasting the Best of Virginia Wines in Frankfurt, Germany, with Stuart Pigott: Virginia Governor's Cup Case 2016

Virginia Governor's Cup Case 2017

The second tasting - of the 2017 case - took place in 2019. By accident, I received 2 cases in Frankfurt. As a result, we decided not to have the tasting at our residence in Frankfurt with a limited group of tasters, as in the year before, but to have it in a restaurant in Frankfurt with a larger group, charge an entrance fee and offer a meal. We capped the attendance at 36, inluding Annette and me.

The tasting was led by Annette Schiller, ombiasy WineTours, with a power-point presentation.

Jürgen Lüttges, President of the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim, gave a most interesting talk about President Jefferson's wine tours in Europe, when he was Ambassador in Paris.

Paula Sidore of Weinstory (Providing German-English language logistics for and from the wine industry: translation, tasting notes, and copywriting) shared with us her experience from Horton Vineyards, where she worked earlier in her career.

Tasting Top Virginia Wines in Frankfurt, Germany: Virginia Governor's Cup Case 2017


Previous Virginia Governor's Cup Competitions

Virginia's Best Wines: 2018 Virginia Governor's Cup Competition, USA

Virginia's Best Wines: 2017 Governor‘s Cup Gala in Richmond, Virginia, USA

Virginia's Best Wines: 2016 Virginia Governor's Cup, USA

Virginia's Best Wines: 2015 Virginia Governor's Cup, USA

Virginia's Best Wines: 2014 Virginia Wineries Governor’s Cup, USA

Governor’s Cup Competition 2013, Virginia, USA

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