A Fabulous Wine From France

E Wine of the Week
By Bruce Cochran

A Fabulous Wine From France
Look for the rooster on the label

Hello, everyone:
This week we continue our look at wines made in and around the mighty Alpine mountain range with a look at a place in the south of France that I’ve long recommended for bargains, both red and white.
I’ll be in Italy next week, spending a lot of time in and around the Alps. I’ll use the first four days checking out some new hotels, restaurants and driving times for future itineraries. Then I’ll hook up with my group for the current itinerary that many of you have experienced in recent years. Giovanni says “Hello!” to his many friends here, and while the earthquake wasn’t all that far from him, it was far enough.
Try a new wine this week!

La Vieille Ferme

Swiss Alps, Italian Alps, Austrian Alps, German Alps, French Alps … those mountains long have effected the lives of their inhabitants from food and wines to the architectural design of buildings and homes and work and recreation. The largest of the French Alps are those closest to Switzerland around the famous ski area of Chamonix, and south of there along the border with Italy.
Their best wines come from the foothills farther inside France, near the Rhone River and adjoining regions in northern Provence. Wines from Hermitage and Cote-Rotie along the slopes of the northern Rhone, and Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the south, can command $100 and more for a single bottle.
Fortunately, there are many “satellite” appellations along the Rhone and in Provence, wine regions next door to the famous names, without the famous name prices. To the east and a little south from the ancient papal province of Avignon, on the southern Rhone, are northern Provence’s Cotes du Luberon and Mount Ventoux.
Windy Mount Ventoux (the name means “wind” in French), is the largest mountain in its area. Technically it’s a part of the Alps, but it sits alone, away from the other high peaks and visible for miles around. Known for wind and even snowstorms, it’s especially famous for being a challenging part of the Tour de France. The road over it sometimes must be closed because of weather conditions.
Vineyards in the Cotes du Ventoux wine appellation are sheltered from the Mistral winds by Mount Ventoux, and their climate is different from those of the Cotes du Rhone. The grape varieties grown there are mostly the same, but the wines tend to be a little less hearty and robust.
Nearby, the Cotes du Luberon vineyards lie along the slopes and valleys of the Luberon Mountains. This is one of France’s most charming areas, made famous by Peter Mayle’s book “A Year in Provence” and the movie “A Good Year” starring Russell Crowe.
Both the Cotes du Ventoux and Cotes du Luberon are the kinds of places I like to know about for really good wines at bargain prices.
I’ve long enjoyed a brand named La Vieille Ferme (“The Old Farm”). The red (Grenache 50 percent, Syrah 20 percent, Carignan 15 percent and 15 percent Cinsault), and rose (Cinsault 50 percent, Grenache 40 percent, Syrah 10 percent) come from Cotes du Ventoux. The white (Grenache blanc 30 percent, Bourboulenc 30 percent, Ugni blanc 30 percent, Roussanne 10 percent), is from Cotes du Luberon. Look for the sketch of the rooster on the label.
The only thing better than an undiscovered bargain is one made by great winemakers and La Vieille Ferme is owned by the Perrin family, who are famous for their outstanding (and expensive) Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Chateau de Beaucastel.
La Vieille Ferme retails in the $10 to $15 dollar price range.

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Categories: Legacy Archive