Rhone: Vignobles la Coterie

In 1956, a group of men decided to unite their common willpower, ideas, and their passion, to further the interests of their wines and winemaking. The Vignerons de Beaumes-de-Venise is a cooperative with over 203 owner-growers, with sixteen members sitting on the board and one elected chairman. The village of Beaumes-de-Venise has a very interesting history. The ‘Beaumes’ refers to the Provençal name of the caves that were formed in the cliffs above the village, called the “Dentelles de Montmirail”. The adjective “Venise” comes from the name of the Comtat (county) Venaissin, the former territory of several tribes of Gauls, whose property was owned by the Vatican from 1229 until taken over by the French government after the Revolution in 1791. (Avignon was also taken back from the Vatican at this time). The village is best known for its dessert wine the Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. The name of the grape variety “Muscat” is the Provençal term for “aroma of Musk”. In the 14th century, the popes residing in Avignon owned vineyards in Beaumes.

  • Muscat Beaumes de Venise 'Tradition'

    The history of Beaumes-de-Venise goes back to Roman times. This can be found in the famous encyclopedia by Pliny the Elder, wherein he calls the Muscat grapes ”The vine of the Bees”, because it made such a sweet and aromatic wine.

    Aromatic, floral, and honeyed aromas of peach, white peach, apricot and dried fruits assails your olfactory glands as you deign to taste this elixir, called the ‘Nectar of the Gods’ in France. One does not need to wonder why the French Pope left Italy to return to his native land in the 14th century. The taste and texture are the reflection of the aromas: rich as honey, yet it is lighter, very smooth, and more enticing, since the wine’s finish is so delicious and balanced that it makes you want another sip.

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    • Cotes du Rhone 'les Merites de l'Enclave'

      The ‘Mérites de l’Enclave’ refers to the merits of the Pope’s enclave, an area east of Avignon (previously part of the Knights Templar holdings), when there was a French Pope in the 13th and 14th centuries. The origin of the Enclave goes back to the Middle Ages when Pope Clement V and King Philip IV took over these lands from the Knights Templar, because the French King found them to be too powerful and rich (and owed them money for the war against the English). The papal enclave is in the vicinity of Visan and is from where these grapes originate.

      This is an excellently valued Côtes-du-Rhône, with rich, soft red fruit on the nose and palate, some aromas of garrigue, with substantial fruit on the palate, and very good length for this price. Made from 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah, this is one crowd-pleasing Rhône! Drink with your favorite Mediterranean dishes, grilled meats, pasta with red sauce or anything with olives or tomato in it. This wine sings with food!

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      • Cotes du Rhone 'les Merites de l'Enclave' Rose

        Made from Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault. This Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé is made by skin contact for a day or so with the juice to give it its purple-tinted pink color. The grapes are cooled in the vats as soon as it arrives from the vineyards, then once the color is set, the juice is run off the skins and cold settled before yeast fermentation begins. The wine is matured on the lees for 3 months before bottling to maintain its fresh character. It has a floral nose with hints of raspberry/strawberry, a brilliant and clear strawberry juice color with purple tints. Fresh, rich flavors and a deliciously round palate, beautiful balance. Enjoy it on the deck or on a picnic, this is a very versatile wine.

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        • Seguret Cotes du Rhone Villages

          Seguret is a Côtes du Rhône Village, significant because the CdR Villages produce a higher quality wine (historically) than the regular Côtes du Rhônes. They typically have a more interesting or complex soil, and their yields are more limited : 36 hl/ha for CdR Villages and 52 hl/ha for the Côtes du Rhône, a 27% drop in yield and more often than not, a corresponding increase in richness, depth, and complexity. The village of Seguret is at the foot of the northwestern side of the Dentelles de Montmirail, the limestone outcropping that rises to the east of Gigondas. The soil on the slopes and terraces are pebbles in a limestone/clay base, with a Mediterranean climate under the influence of the Mistral wind. Historically, vines were first planted in the area in the 7th century, but viticulture in Seguret developped commercially in the 13th century, under the Count of Touluse at first, then the Princes of Orange. A brotherhood of winegrowers was created in 1685, and ironically, its first leader was a woman. The brotherhood was re-established in 1985 as the Confrerie des Chevaliers de Gouste-Seguret Compagnons de St-Vincent. The ascension of Seguret from Côtes du Rhône to Côtes du Rhone Villages happened in 1967.

          This Seguret Côtes du Rhône Villages is from the Vignerons de Roaix Seguret, and is composed of Grenache 75%, Syrah 15%, and a touch of Mourvèdre 10%. Compared to other Côtes du Rhône, this drinks about as big as many Rasteau/Beaumes de Venise/Valréas reds, richer than many Vacqueryas that sell for a bit more money, but is more on a red fruit flavor spectrum with lots of mid-palate texture from ripe Grenache Noir.

          From very similar soil to Gigondas (pebbly limestone/clay), the wine shows a deep garnet with hints of brick red. The nose shows a spicy nose of cherry preserve, plum and cocoa, while on the palate it is round with ripe red fruits and tannins that are present but well integrated. Drink this with Mediterranean foods, fowl, cheese, lighter game dishes.

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          • Beaumes de Venise AOC Rouge 'La Chapelle'

            This wine is named after the 11th century chapel that sits on the hill opposite the winery, just below the Dentelles de Montmirail. The village was on the path that took pilgrims and warriors to and from the Crusades. The chapel is no longer used, but stands as a reminder of the rich history of this area.

            La Chapelle Red can rival its bigger neighbors to the west; it is deep red-purple in color, with great legs, ripe red fruit on the nose and palate with some floral aromas, complex flavors of spice, garrigue, and jam. The tannins are very well integrated, with a long ripe finish, full of body.

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            • Vacqueras 'Domaine Saint Roch'

              Vacqueyras is a small village nestled in between Gigondas and Beaumes-de-Venise at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail. It used to be a Côtes du Rhône Village, but was elevated to appellation status in 1990. The red wines account for 97% of the production of the village.

              This domaine-bottled Vacqueyras has an expressive nose of red fruits, with lots of fruit up front and surprisingly good complexity, showing a bit more tannins than its lesser Rhône brethren. The balance between fruit, tannin, and acid is quite nice, showing why this wine moved out of the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation into its own. It is made of 62% Grenache and 38% Syrah. Structured with some nice sauvage, spice, and garrigue flavors, with a touch of kirsch and cocoa on the finish, the solidity of this wine will allow it to age well (up to 7 years), or drink nicely after a little bit of airing. Best served with wild fowl or marinated game.

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