It’s a never-ending learning process. Wine that is. Twenty years of intense reading about wine, tasting and naturally visiting has only resulted in one insight I can be fully certain of; the fact I’ve only scratched the surface. Basically I’m still like Manuel – you know, the guy from Barcelona – and still know nothing. For some I suspect it could be a frustrating fact but for me age and two decades of accumulated knowledge has only brought humbleness – and even more curiosity. Wine knowledge is not about bragging, it’s about constantly learning to the bitter end and along the way share with others in order to enthuse. After all, who wants to be a show off? Really?
I’m at a masterclass in Avignon. The theme is Ventoux, an appellation I’m most curious about. It’s easy to give up before even having started when you’re dealing with an appellation of Ventoux size. To think it’s probably just about quantity or 51 communes trying to steal a bit of the fame from its world famous western neighbor. That would be a huge mistake, to dismiss Ventoux (previously known as Côtes du Ventoux), and not follow what’s about to happen here. Just the fact that a sixth of the more than 6,000 hectares of vineyard area in Ventoux are organically treated must indicate something.
The first wine served at the masterclass is the 2011 Regain Blanc, a white consisting of mainly Clairette and a fifth of Grenache Blanc. Never heard of it. Slightly floral on the nose but balanced by cooler stone fruits. One thing’s for sure, it gets my attention. On the palate the 2011 offers a restrained green apples character, good concentration, wet earth and a pretty long pure finale. I didn’t catch the price first but later learned from the winemaker Jean Marot that it’s retailing below a tener in France. At first I’m not sure if I should be glad or sad. Glad I could buy quality at these price levels. Sad because they are worth so, so much more.
Directly after the Ventoux lesson I’m heading over to meet the man behind Regain Blanc – Jean Marot – eager to learn more and hopefully have a talk with him. I’m lucky. Few know of him it seems, but instead flocks like a hord around the well-known names. The former winemaker at Domaine Le Murmurium in Ventoux decided to start his own business a couple of years ago – Vindemio. Differences in how Le Murmurium were to be run resulted in a sad departure but today he’s back and his son Guillaume stands as owner of the family run Vindemio.
Jean Marot is the epitome of a humble winemaker. He has nothing to prove to anyone and only follows his own beliefs. The Regain Blanc is an excellent example of that. I’m tasting through his portfolio which mainly consists of red wines, Grenache and Syrah based. The former pharmacist produces three reds, the Regain, Imagine and Amadeus. The reds from Jean were amongst the greatest discoveries at the Decouvértes tasting in Avignon, especially the Amadeus showed such quality that I’m quite sure a majority would recognize it as a Chateauneuf-du-Pape of superior quality.
So, what’s so special about the wines of Jean Marot’s Vindemio? First of all, the wines shines of confidence. Jean’s confidence. It’s obvious he has a plan. Vindemio is run bio-dynamically although not certified. Jean has teamed up with seven other wineries in the Rhône Valley (Domaine La Cabotte, Mas d’Espanet, Ch. Fontvert, Dom. du Joncier, Dom. la Pequelette, Ch. Simian and Dom. des Coteaux des Travers) under the name Bio Dyn Dingues Donc. Sharing knowledge, trying to demystify bio-dynamics and simply promoting their wines as a group.
Jean Marot’s wines never sees any oak what so ever. Not even an old foudre. It’s all about cement tanks and as Jean tells me “not disturbing the purity of the fruit.” His vineyards are to be found at Mormorion which is located close to more well-known Flassan. The altitude adds a cooler fruit and also prolongs the season which means later harvests. Together with Jean’s philosophy of striving for really phenolic ripe grapes it means harvests in October and even sometimes in November. All the grapes from the currently 15 hectares of vineyards are handpicked and results in powerful yet beautifully balanced wines.
Amadeus, Imagine & Regain
I know what you think. Late harvested wines of this type will suffer from a lack of acidity. Taste the Imagine or the 2011 Amadeus, wines with a yield at 20 hl/ha, vines dating up to 80 years back and be prepared to totally reformulate your thoughts on Ventoux. My first impressions is that of a traditional Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a Mont-Olivet for example. Just add more purity to the fruit, a cooler impression and a tannin structure which really is mouth-gripping in a good way. It’s all about dark cherries, garrigue, wet earth, violets and a touch of smoke in the Amadeus. I’ve never tasted a better Ventoux than the 2011 Amadeus. It’s concentrated, packed with fruit and loads of acidity. Yet it’s shaped in a most drinkable way. never-ending finish. While the Amadeus is mainly old vines Grenache, Jean has also added a fifth old vines Syrah.
The 2011 Imagine is equal parts of the both grapes and the most elegant wine in Vindemio’s portfolio. Quite like the Amadeus but more herbal and adding a touch of red berries, primarily raspberries to the taste. Again, the wine indicates it’s a keeper but it won’t hurt you if you can’t keep hands away.
The red Regain would make many wines priced twice as much embarrased. This is all you want from a everyday wine. Purity in the dark fruit, herbs, smoked sausages, flowers, some tannin structure and a dry taste. Lots of garrigue and seductive as h-ll. Yes, it has a decent amount of alcohol but who cares? The balance is there. Finding stuff like this makes me happy.
For those of you who already today can buy Vindemio; lucky you. Importers on the chase for the greatest find in 2013 – contact Jean Marot. Ventoux is on the move!
2012 samples were also tasted and they just confirm what greatness you will discover in 2011 of Vindemio. By the way, the name Vindemio translates to “I harvest.”
To find Jean Marot’s wines, use the wine-searcher box in the top right corner of the page.
Wonder about my scores? Then check out this.