On the 13th of this month - at the London International Wine Festival 2009 - I had the opportunity to be part of a 'Master Class' on the newest 'cru' within the Cotes du Rhone. Located north-east from the ancient-walled city of Avignon, Vinsobres wines are as dynamic as the geographical topography that they are grown.
The vineyards of Vinsobres have always been modest in size. After the big frost in 1956 which destroyed the olive trees, the vines once more regained their place. Vinsobres was classified Cotes du Rhone Villages in 1957, then Cotes du Rhone Villages Vinsobres in 1967. The vineyards then obtained the local cru status - appellation Vinsobres in 2005.
The soils in the region consist of rocky soils on the hillsides, and quatenary rocky alluvial soils on the terraces.
The grape variety mix includes: (only red wines): Grenache Noir - 50% minimum in the blend, Syrah 25% up to 50% and or Mourvedre, other grape varieties allowed can be no more than 25% maximum.
During the master class we sampled 6 exceptional examples of terroir, local weather, winemaking and vintage understanding and respect.
Without listing each wine in turn - each wine showed clearly the percentage influence and age of the vines of Grenache and their resulting personality and character in each glass. On the nose you had notes of ripe red fruits, blackcurrant and cherry, with spicy notes, through to vanilla and pepper. The palate of each wine varied and expressed power and finesse at the same time, with a refreshing mouth feel, well-balanced with ever present tannins, that lingered long in the mouth.
Each wine - as with all good wine - was made to best express itself with good local cuisine, and these red wines would go well with; red meats, game and a loaf of crusty bread and cheese. Many people will be unsure on the ageing potential of Grenache predominant wines, and these 6 wines varied from early drinking between 3-6 years and 2 wines could age gracefully for 10 to even 25 years.
If you have not had the pleasure of sharing a good bottle of Vinsobre wine with a good friend and a good meal, I encourage you to visit your local fine wine retailer today and see what you can find, it will be a well worthwhile adventure.