Chateau Juvenal Cote du Rhone Ventoux “La Terre du Petit Homme” 2017
My taste buds say the Ventoux should be one of the most celebrated appellations in the Cotes du Rhone, but alas, it is not. Most of the grapes are sold off in bulk to the local co-op, which churns out simple and rustic reds. But not our newly uncovered gem today – Chateau Juvenal.
It’s a rather apropos name: Even though the vines are over 50 years old, the chateau (replete with domaine bottling) is only about eight. Here’s how it began.
Anne Marie and Bernard Fostier bought the property in 2001—I am guessing as a vacation home. The Ventoux is beautiful, home to sylvan bike trails that climb Mont Ventoux, enormous lavender fields, etc. The property came with a vineyard and the Fostiers contracted with their neighoors, the Albans, to farm the fruit and then deliver it to the local co-op. Vacation home makes a little money on the side – who wouldn’t want this deal?
About a decade later Philippe Cambie, internationally renowned oenologist and named best wine consultant of the year by Robert Parker, was wandering by. Cambie loves beautiful soils and he pointed out to the Albans and Fostiers that they were shipping some amazing fruit off to the co-op to be turned into plonk.
The Albans and Fostiers took heed. They decided to pool their two farms and start a tiny winery from these vineyards where Philippe saw so much potential. A small investment was made, Philippe was brought on as the winemaker, and the young winery was born – Chateau Juvenal. And Oh! Does this wine show you just how wonderful Cotes du Rhone Ventoux can be:
The wine opens with a core expression of Grenache: bold blackberry, bramble, plum and cassis in a fruit-forward profile. If this were it the wine would be simply gulpable. But this is old vine Grenache, bringing loads of complexity here both in flavor and definition. The flavor is youthful now and leans strongly towards fruit, but there is a savory underlayment of garrigue, sous bois, and spice. Syrah provides the powerful back-up in this red blend, lending a structure of tannins and acidity – like a sturdy rack for the lush fruit to hang upon.
This “little red that could” is wonderful as a cocktail, but it doesn’t stop there. Carry this wine right on through to the meal with a cracked black pepper and rosemary roast beef or any exotically spiced cuisine. I’m thinking cumin-and-coriander grilled lamb right now – and this wine can handle it all.
The fact that most Ventoux is lost to the bulk bin works greatly to our advantage. Prices in the region remain modest, even for hidden gems like domaine-bottled Chateau Juvenal. Enjoy!
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