Chemins Vignerons

When an incoming tourist agency meet a wine expert

chemins-vignerons springtime in LanguedocChâteauneuf du Pape in winterAt the wineryGigondas : terroir of Romane Machotte Wine tour with a group at Saint Christol terroirTavel in octoberWine tastingEnjoying life in Aix en ProvenceSablet a nice village in the Rhône valleyMagical underground cellarRoof at Mèze (Languedoc)Pebbles at Châteauneuf du Pape

8 juillet 2013
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur 12


My husband and I had a wonderful experience as part of our honeymoon on the new "Wine Education in the Rhone Valley" (june 2013) tour with Marc, who is a wine expert. We were the only two for the morning part of the session, where we went to a vineyard and along the way received an in-depth education on wine in France, particularly the South of France. At the estate we had a tour of the brewing facilities and learned more about the theory and techniques for tasting wine. My husband and I were curious, and had never learned officially had to do this before and it was a fun, eye-opening experience. Marc was so knowledgeable, helpful and funny–it was cool to feel like we were getting a private tour! There were also some yummy snacks and olive oil tasting offered here as well. We soaked everything in and then went for lunch in a pretty town with a castle (Beaumes de Venise).

We went back to Avignon to pick up guests for the afternoon section of the tour, where we went to two wineries, including the famous region Chateauneuf-du-Pape. We were joined by a large group of 10 other people and had fun tasting wines together. There was also a pit stop at a castle(Chateauneuf-du-Pape) , photo op in the vineyards and stop at a chocolate shop for more souvenirs. 

I am impressed with all the knowledge I walked away with from the tour (and have been spouting off to my wine-loving friends) and have fallen in love with wine, particularly from the South of France, even more! This is a great tour for wine lovers who wish to deepen their knowledge.

15 avril 2012
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur Bandol 2001 La Suffrène and pheasant cooked with Jerusalem artichoke

Bandol 2001 La Suffrène and pheasant cooked with Jerusalem artichoke

Pheasant is a tasty game, its flesh is intense in tastes  and needs wines of character that developp undergrowth aromas but matured tannins in order to find a perfect harmony : our choice went to a Bandol 2001, which must be matured enough now. A blending of Grenache and Mourvèdre : the last one, when getting old is prone to provide game and humid earth aromas.

2001 was a year of drought from June to September, grape harvest were dry, it went fast and rather in small volume.

Tasted January 8th 2012 – Domaine La Suffrène 2001 – AOC Bandol – Winemaker : Cédric Gravier at La Cadière d’Azur – Grape varieties : 55% : Mourvèdre, 20% : Grenache noir, 15% : Cinsault, 10% : Carignan. Alcohol : 15%. Medium colour intensity, dark garnet with important brown nuances. The first nose expresses fragrances of truffle which will vanish later. A broad olfactory range : brown spices, humid earth, black crystallized berries, plum,’s jam, soot, laurel and Corinth. The mouth is very powerful and shows a supple attack. Fatness and volume are balanced by tannins, just a bit dry but grained, dense, growing in the middle of mouth and persist for long time to give a drop of fine bitterness at the finish. The mouth is dominated by concentrated notes of Corinth then dry plum and aromas of torrefaction finished by undergrowth, spices, crystallized blach cherry. Very long, airy aftertaste, with a fine touch minth/cocoa. Very good wine, a bit heady, big complexity.

With the roasted pheasant in casserole and Jerusalem artichoke : the firm flesh of the fowl, its slightly dry nature and especially its wild taste was emphasized by this type of baking. Jerusalem artichokes braised in sauce before service, sapid and mellow, brought the sofness to the whole. The wine, with its powerful tannins and its envoloping alcohol was perfect on the association fowl and vegetable. The strong aromas of the pheasant met those of humus of the wine, the smooth tannins merge with the flesh, almost perfect association, intense torresfaction and raisin aromas were sometimes dominating, without weakening : a success, to do again !







15 avril 2012
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur Tartare of salmon with a rosé of Foulaquier estate (Pic Saint Loup AOC)

Tartare of salmon with a rosé of Foulaquier estate (Pic Saint Loup AOC)

Mas Foulaquier – cuvée Le Rosé 2008 – Pic Saint Loup. wienmakers : Pierre Jéquier and Blandine Chauchat. Alchool : 13%. Cépages : 90% grenache 10 % Syrah. Tasted septembre 13th 2009. This rosé shows a very nice pink/orange colour, shinning with a light blueish hue. Subtle and nuanced nose, cherry and strawberry scents followed by more creamy pomegranate notes. A slightly metallic and mineral sensation giving a little sharp touch. Supple attack in mouth, with a fine roundness. Red fresh fruits aromas, neat (cherry pit, black currant acid drop, rose, pomegranate) are rising quickly and sustain for a while, with a very elegant mineral background. The light acidty balance this excellent wine, giving a long finish between roundness and uprightness.

 Tartare of salmon is a simple dish to do but rather complex for ist flavours and texture. This fish is fatty and aromatic, the raw characteristic of that recipe also take up challenge for the wine. The dressing  is based on lemon, caper; onion, dill and olive oil. This dish is served fresh and can be offered in form of toasts. In mouth, the tartare is juicy.  The first sensations are fresh (temperature and acidity) and mellow (flesh of salmon). The crunchy provided by the onion appears progressively at the same time  of iodized flavours. Spices and herbs (pepper, dill, caper, chili and olive oil) underpin the whole, giving an impression of complexity.
The association
wine and tartare was
perfect. The fatness of the rosé competed the  suave texture of the fish  and its minérality easily resisted to iodized and spicy notes. The finess of that wine married the multiple nuances of the dish. Aromatic persistence wrapped the whole with ist characteristic fruitness  giving fancy note. 






13 avril 2012
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur 7 Châteauneuf du Pape 2009 white and cheeses

7 Châteauneuf du Pape 2009 white and cheeses

Châteauneuf du Pape is a great terroir for white too due to the diversity of its terroirs : the limestone mother plate, rich and deep clayous underground favours fresh balance in spite of the power provided by the sun !

Vintage 2009 : Globaly the spring and early summer were quite fresh, the last rainfalls happened late july. August was very hot, temperature reached 38° to 40°  (104 F) locally. Septembre was perfect, hot and dry, equinoctial rains  were soft. 2009 was not too windy (Mistral in the Rhône valley).

Production : Low yields : 30% smaller than usual. A "winemaker’s vintage" where the ability to pick up grape in the very best moment according to the phenolic maturity was crucial. They had to be flexible and patient : 2009 is characteristic for its concentration. « Northern » grapes (Syrah, Roussanne) sufferted – late ripening grapes like Mourvèdre, Bourboulenc and Clairette produced exceptional wines. Year of the Grenache !

Blind Tasting : march 11th 2012

Clos du Caillou cuvée les Safres winemaker : Sylvie Vacheron – grapes varieties : 60% Roussanne, 20 % Grenache blanc, 20% Clairette – terroirs : Pignan and Bédines – maturation 9 months mainly in small casks –  malolactic fermentation blocked – Alcohol : 14,5%. Pale gold, shinning. Oaky scents followed by fresh fragrances like sage, flower, fresh almond. Large mouth, fat marked by oak maturation, Exuberant aromas of yellow fruits (peach…), almond balanced by a spicy freshness. Creamy finish, quite long.

Domaine La Solitude winemaker : Florent Lançon – grapes varieties : Grenache blanc : 30% – Clairette : 30% – Roussanne : 25% – Bourboulenc : 15% – Blocked malolactic fermentation – maturation 8 months on  lees with bâtonnage, Roussanne in new barrels. Alcohol : 13,5%. Pale gold, very shinning. The nose shows a strong minerality, crushed leaves, lime, peach stone, and a hint of yellow fruits. Fluid attack with a lovely mellow texture. Mineral aromas  and lime are blending with honey flavours then anise, frangipani and yellows fruits notes in a juicy powerfull structure, well balanced with finesse. Light aoky notes. 

Domaine de Montpertuis winemaker : Paul Jeune – grapes varieties : Clairette : 30%, Clairette rose : 20%, Grenache blanc : 20%, Bourboulenc : 20%, Roussanne : 10%, Terroir : Mont Pertuis – 4 months vinification and maturation in vats. Alcohol : 13,5%. Pale gold, shinning. The nose is frankly on honey, almond flowers, stone of peach, pear.  Fluid attack on honey sweet followed by fresh  and fine green notes, then lilac. This wine has a nice mineral limestone like grain that going on well with the fatness ; fresh peanut and white flower aromas in mouth. Fresh and acute finish on verbena flavour, very long.

Domaine Raymond Usséglio winemaker : Raymond Usségliograpes varieties : Grenache blanc : 40%, Clairette : 20%, Roussanne : 20% – Bourboulenc : 20% – Blocked malolactic fermentation, 10% matured in oak, 90% in vats, for 6 months on lees. Alcohol : 14,5%. Pale gold, shinning. The nose is quite oaked with immediately exotic notes of dry banana, crystallized pineapple and a floral touch like bluebell. Round attack with a fine acidity underpinned by a quite exciting salty sensation . Exuberant aromas of yellow fruits reinforced by oaky notes now in the front.  A bit burning. Fresh finish on torrefaction aromas.

Domaine Durieu winemaker : Vincent Durieu – grapes varieties : 70% : roussanne, 10% : Grenache blanc, 10% : bourboulenc, 10% : clairette – maturation 6 mois in stainless steel vats – Blocked malolactic fermentation – terroir : Cabrières. Alcohol : 13,5%. Gold colour with green hues, very shinning. Very mineral nose, squeezed vegetal notes, almond, green freschness. Round attack, this wine kickly shows a slender fluid mineral sensation. Evolves on dry fruit aromas (almond, hazelnut), flowers , green apple  to finish on honey notes. Nice freschness, in a sober and intense style.

Domaine La Barrochewinemaker : Julien Barrot – non commercialized cuvée grapes varieties : Clairette : 70%, and 30% Grenache blanc, Bourboulenc and Roussanne, terroir : Pialon or Pied Long, maturation in vats. Pale gold, shinning. Graceful nose with a beautiful white fruit like peach and litchi, menthol, almond, wisteria and wax. Suave mouth without exces of fatness, cristalilzed pear, apple,  bitter almond, marzipan . Mellow mouth with a prominent mineral grain, a touch exotic fruit then pear liquor, fresh finish, marvellous balance,  quite long.

Domaine de Bois de Boursan winemaker : Jean Paul Versino – grapes varieties : Grenache blanc : 35% Clairette : 35% – Roussanne : 15% – Bourboulenc : 15%. Blocked malolactic fermentation – matured in oak for 20%, 80% in vats, for 6 months. Alcohol : 14%. Pale gold with amber hue. Buttery nose followed by yellow fruits scents. Pleasant meaty attack on stone of peach notes then rancid butter, brown spices  Tropical fruit aromas are rising next with a quit "hot" burning sensation. Green apple on finish with a salty hint.

Conclusion : 2009 is a powerful vintage, winemakers were able to take advantage of this type of climate, offering wines in a straight style and a sober aromatic definition like Domaine Durieu, La Barroche and Montpertuis : in these case mineralité is the main quality. Others made them wine through a light oak maturation  as Domaine la Solitude, delicate and elegant. Clos du Caillou and Raymon Usséglio vinified more powerful wines, fattier, more aromatic, showing a more exuberant style. The choice of varieties and blendings prove various results : Domaine Durieu (with 70% Roussanne) without oak maturatione shows a totaly different profile as Clos du Caillou (with 60% Roussanne) matured in oak – Clairette, variety that should be more recognised, gives the identity to the most of these cuvée producing floral and fresh notes.

Matching Châteauneuf blanc and cheeses : 14 various cheeses were gathered : very fresh goat cheese, creamy goat cheese , medium dry goat cheese, fresh ewe cheese from Lozère, medium dry ewe cheese from Corse, old Comté, Gaperon, old Mimolette, Camembert, Brie de Meaux, Maroille, Munster, Bleu d’Auvergne, Reblochon.

It was impossible for us to sample 98 options : 7 wines x 14 cheeses, however unanimous opinions for the 7 tasters appeared, several trends showed up to provide fine harmonies and characteristic dissonances :

  • Non oak wines were always prefered on cheeses except on Bleu d’Auvergne where wine "matured in oak" like R.Usséglio and Clos des Caillou offered a better association.
  • Ewe and goat cheese were always best prefered for its perfect association.
  • Comté and la Mimolette were excellent on wines undepinning more sweet notes.
  • Few unexpected good surprises like Maroille and Gaperon (cow milk with garlic !) were very pleasant.
  • Brie and Camembert gave violent sensation in mouth, Munster had a too stron personality !

22 mars 2012
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur 2010 Vintage in Languedoc, Rhône Valley and Provence

2010 Vintage in Languedoc, Rhône Valley and Provence

The new vintage – 2010 – is maturing now. Winemakers, already have a good over view of the quality potential of that new production. Globaly, the winter was cold and damp, filling the undergroung water table, a mild late spring, a summer, in spite if the intense heat spikes, not as hot as ususal and a dry september : advantageous climatic condition for the realisation of great wines.  There’s a regret however, wind and cool climate made the blossoming of the Grenache difficult resulting in an important lack of fecundation giving few berries on the bunch of grapes or shot berries.

Rhône Valley

En Côtes du Rhône Villages, Saladin Estate, situated at the top north of the sourthern Rhône Valley : Marie-Laurence Saladin said « it was both necessary to be patient and able to take risk ». Carignan, Syrah et Cinsault are wonderful. Here, there’s no loss of yielding, due to the accustomed yield around 30hl/ha. Deep grounds kept humidity just enough all along the pedological growth. The winemaker specifies that her wine are showing « captivating aromas, silky stuff, inky colour, perfect balance… »

In les Dentelles de Montmirail, Montirius Estate in Gigondas and Vacqueyras appellations, Christine and Eric Saurel assert on the perfect sanitary state of the crop. Here, Grenache grew normally, should we see in this fact, the result of an exacting biodymic work  in the vine ?  "Nice rainfall", one week before the harvest and the association sun and wind gave the best opportunity to pick up grapes on perfect maturity. The harvest spread from september 10th to 30th. This year, the temperature scale night and day was more important than usual « giving all the required opportunity to extract minerals from grapes ». Freshness and aromatic intensity, deep colour and elegant tannins seem to be the hallmark of the promising vintage !


Still in les Dentelles de Montmirail, Bosquet Estate (hold by Vaudieu in Châteauneuf du Pape) in Gigondas relate the same information. Julien Bréchet said that 2010 shows the same characteristics as a classical year : a cold and snowy winter, a humid spring, a late summer ; Blossoming was not that bad in altitude (Gigondas is higher than Vacqueyras), more difficult in the lower slopes, resulting in great variations in yields. The short and late summer with high temperuture peak gave a late harvesting period, sound and ripe : Syrah were harvested quite early, Grenache (100% thinned out the leaves) quite late at the end of the harvest : october 9th.  Nice tannins, enough acidity, black colour : «a successful vintage ! »


Same remarks at Domaine de la Rocalière at Tavel, where Séverinne Lemoine lost a sizeable amount of fruit, 25% less because of the shot berries (Grenache is representing 60% of the whole production). Small rainfall in august enabled to fight against the hydric stress. No rot at all, rainfall of september 7 and 8 th’ kept the crop intact. Rosés and whites are fresher and fruitier than 2009. Bunches of grapes used for Lirac, were loose with small berries and thick skins that garanty a sanitary crop and concentration in the wine.

At Châteauneuf du Pape, Christian Vœux, oenologist and CEO of Château la Nerthe, told us we have this year « one of the most beautifull vintage he never had in his entire life ! ». This must result from the alternance of fresh and hot conditions in spring then in summer (hot days and cool nights) hence  a strong polyphenol synthesis and aromas. As eveywhere round the Rhône Valley, late at every stage of the culture and perfect sanitary conditions. Whites are fresh and aromatic, reds are rich, dark, well structured, very fruity with fine tannins. We harvested 10 days late compared to 2009, that’s results to a early harvest whatever, regarding the harvesting period of the 1980’s.


Vincent Durieu, boss at domaine Durieu at Châteauneuf du Pape said the same : shot berries on Grenache, dark colours, small yielding…but he still remains surprised with the global sanitary state, « I never experience such low volatile acidity on reds ! ». « Exeptionnal balance and preserved acidity » he added.

At domaine de La Barroche still at Châteauneuf du Pape, Julien Barrot is enthusiast : « the best quality since 2005 ». The shot berries reduced the yields (almost 30%) producing loose and airy bunches of grapes. Grape harvest spread from september 16th to october 4th. Mild weather during the harvest time left the luxury opportunity to make well-timed harvest decisions to wait the ripeness peak. As a result : even stalks and pips were ripe : no reason to be pessimistic !



Stéphane Bourret manager at Bastide Blanche Estate, at Bandol, considers that vintage as a classic for a climatic point of view : no hydric stress in summer, slightly cooler, so later for maturing fruits. Rainfall in june brought about few rot and mildiou on Grenache (loss as big as 5%). The harvest began september 7th (10 days after previous years that are famous for them precocity). Perfect maturity on Mouvèdre with a regular evolution on maturity of each variety (1st : Grenache, 2d : Cinsault, 3d : Mourvèdre) conversly with the former vintages, harvested at the same time. Fresh aromas, good acidity on whites and rosés and high degree of alcohol on reds are the distintive attribute for this vintage 2010.

Close conclusion at Milan Estate in Coteaux des Baux, where Henri Milan deplores shot berries on Grenache, but volume hadn’t been affected, this cellar is famous for its very low yielding. The big rainfall in september didn’t spoiled the crop exceptional for its quality. Harvest took place 10 days later the usual period. Very high quality potential.



Simon Dauré from Clos de Paulille considers that vintage 2010 as a good year. Humid spring, the violent wind intake of the Tramontane devastated Grenache when branches were soft and young. Summer was quite dry, a small rainfall during the harvest time enables the maturity to go on. Very small crop partly due to shot berries on Grenache : yielding harly excess 20hl/ha here, but the crop was particularly sound. Wines are very dark and fulbodied : a top quality vintage !

22 mars 2012
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur Maturation of wine in Foudre

Maturation of wine in Foudre

Maturation of wine in Foudre

A Foudre is a large wooden vat, it can contain  up to 300 hectoliters and more. This word is coming from the German " Fuder " translated  as « cartful, containing », having entered in the French language in the 16th C. This type of vat is to be found particularly in the Mediterranean vineyards. The use of Foudre for maturation results from a long wine tradition, but its interest is also linked to the volume, the thickness of staves and the age of the vat.

The micro-oxidation: Stephane Bourret from Domaine Bastide Blanche at Bandol  said that «  Foudre is essentially  bringing (as anymaturation  in wood) a slow oxigenation of the wine which generate a polymerization of flavanoïdes compounds. These non polymerized compounds does’t have tannic characteristics, they are only forerunners of tannins and have a bitter dimension. Polymerization produces development of tannins.

  • During the vinification, we air the wine in order to obtain the phenomenon of polymerization. If the wine comes from very tannic grape variety, this maturation enable to accentuate the polymerization… 
  • In a small wooden content (barrel or demi-muid) there conversly no addition of oaky flavours.  Even with brand new Foudre, the extraction of wooden taste is much less important than regular oak barrel, related to ratio surface and volume of wine : the bigger the less oaky !
  • If we want an oxygenation of the wine without addition of aoky notes, it is necessary to use these big barrels : the more the Foudre is small, the stronger its wooded taste will be. According to vintages, the choice of various size is crucial : on a rather light vintage (on 2002 in Bandol) it is better to put it in the biggest as possible helping the wine of " to hold ". This wooden maturation is possible only if the wine has a sufficient tannic structure.
  • If the wine is rather light (therefore not enough phenolic compounds) oxidation gives a quick polymerization (few phenolic compounds in " work "). Absorbed oxygen is going to dissolve into the wine and will produce an oxidative problem. The Art consists in controlling this oxygenation without arriving oxidation.

What grape varieties to use?

« More than the grape variety c ‘est the type of wine wewant  to make which determines this maturation. If we wiant a light wine, Foudre maturation is not necessary. If we want a very concentrated wine, it is necessary to have long vinification in order to have a big extraction and therefore having an important wood maturation»  thinks Stephane Bourret. «Reductive grape varieties are necessary for this kind of maturation » or  other grapes coming from very good years.

What type of style Foudre is bringing ?

According to Julien Paillé from Château de Rozier in Costières de Nîmes: « Whether it is the barrel or Foudre, compounds brought in the wine are similar, proportion only will change, more stuff will be extracted from the first one. Foudre will bring additional aromas to the wine (vanilla, grilled and smoked scents, mineral, toast, fresh wood), in reasonable proportions. »

Stephane Bourret notes that the age of Foudre is very important and have a strong influence on the addition of taste: « One young Foudre will bring rather frank wooded notes (coffee, grilled) while an old one will give notes more spices (pepper, nutmeg).  The older, the more the notes of old wood and brushwood will appear. Older again, the notes of old dry wood will appear. These Foudre may "dry" the wine giving astringence notes without improving anything. It is therefore necessary to change regularly a part of Foudre. As long as Foudre respects " the fruit " of the wine, Foudre is useful.

But eveything can vary every year and : what’s difficult is to know how to use the Foudre according to the vintage. Every Foudre has its own characteristic, we know it by experience. Some are making the wine harder, other oxidizes faster. It ‘s necessary to deal with the Foudre to achieve blending that gives interesting aromatic notes and  preservation of  varietal flavours. »

Advantages and drawbacks :

Several technical advantages are significant due to their volume: less manipulations is necessary to accomplish (save time, handiwork, less risk of oxidation) than on the smallest volumes of kegs.

Disadvantages are: price, often delicate cleaning to maintain all wooden porous Foudres, fragile (they need a lot of  very hot water to clean), and his conservation: it always must  be full (wine or water). Stephane Bourret adds that « Foudre is a living entity in which they put some wine. If we put wine without bacteriological defect, a bacteriological equilibrium is going to settle, that shouldn’t be destroyed by the use of chemical to clean.


This kind of vat is interesting for its ability to  oxygen and giving a light aromatictouch . All grape varieties (particularly the Mediterranean said grape varieties) are appropriate in this type of maturation because it is very respectful to the wine.

But Stephane Bourret from Domaine Bastide Blanche concludes: «Foudre is fantastic because its preserves the varietal aromas. Why producing AOC (a geographical origine and the adaptation ground/grape variety) if they must conceal the whole by universal tastes in systematic maturation  in small barrel ? »

If we want to protect the renowned diversity of  French wines, maturation in Foudre can go in this way !

21 mars 2012
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur 2011 Vintage in Languedoc, Rhône Valley and Provence

2011 Vintage in Languedoc, Rhône Valley and Provence

This year was considered for being precocious for its very hot spring with up to 3 weeks in advance. Freshness of summer postponed the date of crop, which finally  was only week precocious .

This vintage 2011 still shows an unfamiliar climate. Here and there, all around the méditérranéen , winter was cold and humid, but short.

Advanced spring with a hot wave at the beginning of April, dryer and hotter than usual (which would have brought grape harvests in mid-august !). Very hot temperature towards mid-May with varying from 30 to 35 °C. Surprising  a cold period in early june, from 13 to 15 °C followed by strong rain falls and winds. In June alternation of cool and  hot temperatures because of irregular rainfall.

Summer was rather humid with for instance 25 mm on Châteauneuf du Pape on July 13th,rains,were happily drained by the Mistral the following day. This month was intersected by tempered periods (wind from west and sun) and cooler (hail on Orange and Courthézon on July 26th). Big rainfall took place between August 6th and 7th then August 26th (100mm) before leaving a hot and scorching sun of 19 in 24 between 36 ° and 40 °C  with however necessary, cool nights, up to the period of grape harvests: phenolic maturation was not precocious on all terroir.Big yielding postponed the maturation : a year where the winemaker had to show adaptation skills

  • small yields : good phenolic maturation.
  • high yields : late maturation, rot and lack of colour.

Rhône Valley

Séverine Lemoine from Domaine de la Rocalière on Tavel et Lirac  appellation is very satisfied : larger crop than previous years du millésime for Grenache noir ( that demanded more work and attention : " I had to be patient and to deserve it"). In spite of bigget crop, due to good fecondation during the blossoming, this grape hadn’t shot berries. this features preserved acidity. Strangely sugars had tendency to be ripe before skins. Mistral (the wind) and draining ground preserved grapes from rot. " this vintage will give a large scale of products, where the date and the mode of harvesting (hand harvesting, sorting) will have all their importance!"

At Gigondas at Domaine des Bosquets managed by Julien Bréchet, confirms the late maturity of skins and sugars, resulting dgood acidities. Big job to do in the vines : thining all the leaves was necessary, green harvesting, sorting up to 15% of the crop. But we had a perfect quality with high degrees. On the same terroir, Jérôme Maillot, vineyard manager at Longue-Toque establishes the same comment :   high quality with a big diversity of maturity according to the terroir : "it’s going to be a vintage of winemaker".  

At Châteauneuf du Pape, wimakers are rather satisfied, like Christian Voeux who manage Château la Nerthe : " because of the nice weather of the septembre, sanitary condition was perfect. Grenache, had no shot berries, quite productive young vines, nedded green harvesting" Still at Châteauneuf du Pape, Stephan Brun from Domaine Juliette Avril said there’s a great variation in maturity between north and south of the appellation : harvest laster for 3 weeks (10 days only in 2010). Julien Barrot from Domaine de la Barroche tells us, in spite of the exceptionnel indian summer, the harvest period was quite spread in time hence a fresh and fruity style for grapes harvested early ; more concentration and density for wines resuslting of the second period.

At the northern tip of southern Côtes du Rhône, Elizabeth et Marie Laurence Saladin, from domaine Saladin said it was a year of adaptation : terroirs with round pebbles resisted better, green harvesting were necessary on Grenaches et Mourvèdres on clayous ground to regulate volumes. Marie Laurence said : "maturity were strange and we had to work more carefully on blendings :  secondairy grapes benefited of the sunny late septembre.  Syrahs and Clairettes pink  where harvested few days before usual, perfect Carignan and Mourvèdres nedded time to ripe, Grenaches required more attention, white are outsanding."


Same statement : early spirng, cool summer, hot and sunny harvests. At Aniane, the had 44mm  rain in July (average in July : 13 mm), T° din August was 10°C (average T° nights and days). This balance sheet is to modify according to the nearness of the sea or the altitude. Volumes are the most important since 2004 with a high qualitative aspect.

At Daumas-Gassac   in Terrasses du Larzac area, Samuel Guibert,  harvest for red went from 13 to 24 septembre, said that slow maturation due to the mild temperatures and cool nights are giving acidity and subtil aromas.

North to Béziers, in Faugères appellation,  Domaine Ollier-Taillefer is satisfied with this cool vintage with a sunny septembre  :  Grenaches  gave normal yields (bigger than usual) 38hl/ha versus 29 hl/ha  previous years : more fruity and crunchy. Globaly other grape are superb ; we had to wait for the phenollic maturation hence high alcool level but acidity is preserved !


The same sound at the of the Rhône river. In Provence, they underline the variation of T ° day and night which favour the synthesis of phenols: this vintage would be better for reds, they bless the Mistral which avoids the phytosanitary treatments: conclusion comes down in a normal maturity of sugars with a ripper conditions of the skins.

Neil Joyce, winemaker at Château Dalmeran in the appellation Baux de Provence, said 2011 is close to the  2007 style ! no shot berries on Grenache  and all the grapes had and harmonious maturity  : "with this vintage we have  colour, finesse of tannins et acidity".  It is necessary to say that this north orientated appellation is particularly subject to the  Rhodannien wind.

At the foohill of Sainte Victoire mountain, Mis Guichot manager of Domaine de Saint Ser, is very happy with this vintage. Grenaches were healthy, as other grape varieties. It is owed to the specific terroir in altitude  swept by the Mistral. She adds that rosés and whites have are more fruity, reds enoughpower, probably a little less acidity than 2010.

At Bandol appellation, we are globaly positive at the domaine Souviou. Even if Grenache are little not as nice, vintage gave superb crop, with quite high alcoholic degrees. Reds are powerful with enough – white and rosé are on the fruit, power and freshness.


2011 is a vintage of winemaker and terroir ! Grenache, proned to suffer shot berry (coulure in french), formed big bunches, full and very juicy (the coulure regulates this vigorous grape variety of course) giving a yielding of 20 % more than 2010, which under the effect humid and cool summer could lead of the brotrytis on the more humid  and cooler lands. Grape harvests in green,thinning and sorting grape during harvests were necessary according to appellations. That leads to late maturity  on Grenache, to less intnese colours. In the Rhône Valley, good terroirs show a best result, of course! In that case, the style of that vintage would get closer to the concentration of the 2007 or 2009.




20 décembre 2011
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur Mas de Theyron – Languedoc AOC

Mas de Theyron – Languedoc AOC

In Mas de Theyron "we are working with a respectful attitude toward our environment, as it is the most essential source of the elaboration of our fine and elegant wines".

Here is one of the most ancient vineyard of Langueoc, we are taking care of our 20 hectares  (50 acres) of different  Mediterranea

n grape varieties that are contributing to the richness of our blends.

The soil is naturally cultivated with organic compost and nutriment, any pesticides since the reorganisation of the parcels in 1998 were discarded. The process for the AB label-organic farming was completed in 2010.

Why are we producing laying down wines ? Because it is especially during the winemaking process that our grapes reveal their great wines potential. Our " terroir" is geologically and typically as St Christol’s one (20 km east of Montpellier).

Our Vin de Pays (VdP) are growing on a mix of clay and limestone soils in different slopes covered with gravels and our Appellation AOC wines are on "villafranchien" type of soil (4 to 1 million years BC) with pebbles.

Harvest of our parcels starts with a selection of complete maturation area and all is hand-harvested. A rigorous selective sorting and the soft destalking and trampling of the grapes allow the development of an optional quality. Traditional and classic vinification at controlled temperature, completed with a long-term maceration contribute to the soft extraction of aromas, colour and tannins.

Aging of red wines is done in cement vats, wooden vats and French oak barrels. We are using around 20% of new barrels every years, in order to keep a very fine progression of our wines during 9 to 18 months.

Our different "cuvées", bottled at the estate, are pursuing their maturation before marketing in our large temperature controlled stoking cellar.

Therefore, for the best tasting qualities of our Languedoc wines and fulfilement, our current vintages are in 5 and 8 years old. Besides fashion and New World influences, wines of Mas de Theyron belong to the best discoveries you could do, for a truly appreciation.

Le Blanc VdP : ground : well-drained, mix of clay and limestone, a lot of gravel. Vines planted in 2000. Yield : 35hl/ha. Grape varieties : Roussanne : 25%, Viognier : 19%, Marsanne : 18%, Chardonnay : 18%, Chenin : 13%, Clairette : 6%, Muscat : 3%. Ageing on lees 30% in oak barrels.

Le rosé VdP : ground : well-drained, mix of clay and limestone, a lot of gravel. Vines planted in 1970. Grape varieties : Cinsault : 32%, Syrah : 29%, Carignan : 21%, Cabernet-Sauvignon : 18%. Yield : 42 hl/ha. Rosé de saignée, vinified at contolled temperature in stainless steel tanks 16° C .

Rouge VdP La Bénovie Les Amandiers : ground : well-drained, mix of clay and limestone, a lot of gravel. Vines planted in 1980. Grape varieties :  Merlot : 40%, Tempranillo : 25%, Cinsault : 18%, Carignan : 14%, Syrah : 3%, small  Yield less than 40 hl/ha, vinified at contolled temperature for 28 à 35 days. Ageing 9 month in barrels (70%) in concrete vats (30%) no filtration nor fining.

Rouge AOC Les Murettes : ground : Villafranchien (mix of clay and limestone covered with pebbles), Vines planted in 1970. Grape varieties : Grenache : 40%, Syrah : 28%, Carignan : 25%, Cinsault : 7% – Yield 35 hl/ha. Long vinification at contolled temperature for 28 to 40 days, matured in barrels one to four years with 20%  brand new barrels, no filtration nor fining.

Rouge AOC Les Galets : Grape varieties : Syrah : 80%, Grenache : 15% et Carignan : 5%  ground : Villafranchien (mix of clay and limestone covered with pebbles), Yield between 20 and 25 hl/ha, long macerations of 28 to 40 days, matured in barrels 12 et 18 months with 20%  brand new barrels, no filtration nor fining, produced only in exceptional vintages.





26 mars 2011
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur The Wine Spectator’s 2009 Top 100 in south of France

The Wine Spectator’s 2009 Top 100 in south of France

N° 3 : Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe –  Châteauneuf du Pape – cuvée la Crau 2007

N° 31 : Domaine Saint Préfert – Châteauneuf du Pape – cuvée Charles Giraud 2007

N° 42 : Clos des Papes – Châteauneuf du Pape 2007

N° 75 : Maison Chapoutier – Côtes du Roussillon Villages – cuvée les vignes de Bila-Haut 2008

N° 85 : Domaine de Montvac – Vacqueyras 2007

N° 86 : Domaine du Soleilla – Languedoc Clape – cuvée les Bartelles 2007

N° 89 : Perrin et fils – Vinsobres – cuvée les Cornuds 2007

N° 100 : Vin de Vienne – Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes – cuvée Sotanum 2007 

26 mars 2011
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur The Wine Spectator’s 2010 Top 100 in south of France

The Wine Spectator’s 2010 Top 100 in south of France

N° 10 : Clos des Papes – Châteauneuf du Pape – blanc 2009

N° 35 : Château Beaucastel – Châteauneuf du Pape – cuvée Hommage à J Perrin 2007

N° 39 : Domaine le Colombier – Vacqueyras – cuvée G 2007

N° 50 : Château de Flaugergues –  Languedoc – cuvée Sommelière 2007

N° 67 : Domaine les Pallières – Gigondas – cuvée Terrasses du diable 2007

N° 78 : Perrin et fils – Gigondas – cuvée la Gille 2007

N° 85 ; Château de Lascaux – Languedoc 2008

N°88 : Domaine Saint Cosme – Côtes du Rhône 2009

N° 99 : Domaine Tempier – Bandol rosé 2009

20 décembre 2010
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur Tasting of 5 Bandol red 2001

Tasting of 5 Bandol red 2001

This tasting happened the november 28th 2010. We tasted wines anonymously, by random and blindfold. The tasting scores are written in the same order of the discovery

Bandol is one of the best appellation in France. Hot and sunny climate, taking advantage of a mild sea breeze,. The best Mourvèdre based wines in the world are to found there.

This kind of tasting enable to appreciate nuances resulting from ground and underground variations and the ability of the winemakers to produce outstanding wines.

Millésime 2001 : The winter was mild and damp. Vegetation grew late marsh, 10 days in advance to 2000. Humid april brought diseases. Mid april, a cold wave slowed down the vegetation growth.  Good development  of the foliage system mid may. The heat increased phytosanitary diseases. Early setting of the vine, 10 to 15 days in advance with a quite important shot berries on Grenache. Normal véraison (change of colour of the berry). The drought lasted 4 month from june to septembre hence an early and fast maturation of the grapes.   Sugars matured before polyphenols resulting in a slight difference in the balalnce. The yielding were 20% smaller than a regular year with small bunches of grapes, advanced havest in dry conditions, however acidty were preserved.

Wines : good colour extraction. Vinifications were somtimes difficult (with stop in the fermentation process, malolactic fermentation long lasting) on wine having a higher alcohol content than usual. A good vintage on the whole.

Bandol 2001 Domaine la Suffrène vigneron

Tasted : november 28th 2010 – winemaker : Cédric Gravier – grape varieties : – Mourvèdre : 55%, Grenache noir : 20%, Cinsault : 15%, Carignan : 10% – Alcohol : 15% – Terroir : sandy and silty, limestone and clayous.

Still a dark intensity with a brick rim. Fresh nose showing spices, soot, leather and then after oxygenation black ripe fruits. Supple attack with lovely grained tannins, a bit powdery. This Bandol reveals a tight textured bodyness, fluid and appetizing. Rich and dense aromas on raisin, ligth vanilla touch, ripe black berries and spices. The style, balance and finess, summon voluptuousness. The tertiary aromas are still retained at the moment, what a youth ! Long caressing finish on blackberry sirup flavour.

Bandol 2001 Château Pradeaux

tasted : november 28th 2010 – winemaker : Cyril de Portalis grape varieties : 80% : Mourvèdre, 15% : Grenache, 5% : Cinsault. – Alcohol : 15% – 100% Undestemmed – Terroir : clayous-limestone with limestone underground.

Medium colour intensity, brownish rim. The nose is a bit shy at the beguinning, exhaling plum, stone fruits, dust and old wood. After airing, intense scents of garrigue (cistus, bay) and burnt wood. Fulbodied and frank attack. Forthright tannins pull off in power during the tasting. Old wood flavours are coming back, followed with plum and spices to vanish an lanolin and bay aromas. Well balanced, good length, in a rustic style !

Bandol 2001 Domaine du Gros Noré

Tasted : november 28th 2010 – winemaker : Alain Pascal – grape varieties : 80% : Mourvèdre, 15% : Grenache, 5% : Cinsault. – Alcohol : 14% – Terroir : clayous.

Very dark colour, very deep, carmine hue. The nose delivers a load of crystallized fruits like plum, cherry, and raisin. Progressively, scents are going to spices (nutmeg), smoke, soot and garrigue. Powerful attack that doesn’t masks the fluid texture. Present but mild tannins, in spite of its stoutness, this wine is impressive for its graceful style. Flavours of plum brandy, jammed black fruits, burnt wood, resin that finish on a fine chocalate after-taste. The tannic sensation is spreading up to the very end with a thyme note. Powerful and elegant !

Bandol 2001 Domaine des Baumelles

Tasted : november 28th 2010 – winemaker : Stéphane Bourret (the same as La Bastide Blanche)– grape varieties : 90% : Mourvèdre, 10% : Grenache – Alcohol : 14,5% – Terroir : clayous-limestone with marl underground.

Very strong colour intensity, brownish rim. Elegant nose on crystallized blackberry and blackcurrant then cherry pit appears. With oxidation, soot, clove and more animal scents are coming up. Wonderful attack, fine and dense with a vertical feeling in mouth. The tannic thread is incredibly tight and tense in an austere warmth. Splendid balance between concentration, mellowness, aciddity and tannins. Aromas are proportioned to its perfect strucure : juniper, v

anilla, burnt wood, garrigue, coffee liquor, plum…Light and airy finish, lingering for a long time – wonderful !

Bandol 2001 Domaine la Bastide Blanche

Tasted : november 28th 2010 – winemaker : Stéphane Bourret (the same as La Bastide Blanche)– grape varieties : 90% : Mourvèdre, 10% : Grenache – Alcohol : 14,5% – Terroir : stones and gravels based on clayous-limestone underground.

Very dark wine with a brick rim. Animal scents at the beginning, with oxidation, nicer fragrances are evapourating. Leather, burnt wood, vegetal notes (dry mushroom) then plum liquor. Very soft attack, fluid and easy going. Tannins are rising quickly in a tense-like sensation. Perfect tight texture, nothing is heavy, this wine show a dynamic style. Graphite,  spices, plum are dominating in a light vanilla atmosphere. Powerful and elegant, this wine lingers in mouth before vanishing on black berries and undergrowth aromas.

To go with this matured, robust but elegant wines, we shared a lamb leg cooked with garlic, served with bette with a reduced wine sauce cooked with mushrooms (porcini, chanterelles and button mushrooms) ans shallot : a good association !

20 avril 2010
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur 10 years of Top 100 Winespector for Châteauneuf du Pape

10 years of Top 100 Winespector for Châteauneuf du Pape


N°3 – Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe – La Crau 2007

N°31 – Domaine Saint Préfert, collection Charles Giraud 2007

N°42 – Clos des Papes 2007


N°5 – Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe – La Crau 2005

N°8 – Château de Beaucastel 2005

N°41 – Domaine la Roquète 2005


N°1 – Clos des Papes 2005

N°3 – Le Vieux Donjon 2005

N°12 – Domaine du Pégau, cuvée réserve 2004

N°20 – Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe – La Crau 2004

N°32 – Clos du Mont-Olivet 2005


N°5 – Domaine du Pégau, cuvée réserve 2003

N°11 – Clos des Papes 2004

N°13 – Domaine Charvin 2003

N°31 – Le Vieux Donjon 2004


N°2 – Clos des Papes 2003

N°19 – Cuvée du Vatican, réserve Sixtine 2003

N°22 – Domaine Grand Veneur, les origines 2003

N°53 – Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, La Crau 2003

N°81 – Paul Autard 2003

N°83 – Perrin et fils, les Sinards 2003


N°31 – Domaine Charvin 2001

N°92 – Domaine du Pégau, cuvée réserve 2001


N°7 – Domaine Beaurenard 2001

N°33 – Domaine de la Solitude 2001

N°41 – E.Guigal 2001

N°43 – Château la Nerthe 2001


N°1 – E.Guigal 1999

N°9 – Château la Nerthe 2000


N°34 – Domaine de la Vieille Julienne 1999

N°55 – Château Mont-Redon (blanc) 2000


N°4 – Le Vieux Donjon 1998

N°7 – Château la Nerthe, cuvée les Cadettes 1998

N°22 – Château la Gardine 1998

N°23 – Château de Beaucastel 1998

N°27 – Domaine Beaurenard 1998

N°29 – Bosquet des Papes 1998

N°49 – Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, La Crau 1998

N°53 – Domaine du Pégau, 1998

N°81 – Maison Ogier, les Closiers 1998



14 avril 2010
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur Garrigue’s aromas

Garrigue’s aromas

We often feel light and balsamic fragrances during mediterranean red wines tasting. Pine resin, cistus, juniper tree, thyme, rosemary aromas and others are called in France "garrigue flavours". Commun in good wines from Languedoc and Provence, these kind of aromas are considered as clues of a low yield, hot conditions, natural environment and a grower ‘s great respect of the vine. Some scientists suppose that the bloom (the fat substance to be found on the skin of the berry) would catch the strong fragrances (vapourised essential oil) released by these shrubs in the warmest conditions, and then would give it back during the fermentation ?

To discover this scents, you just have to walk in wild areas somewhere close to Montpellier, Aix en Provence or Avignon in July or August to make sure how strong they might be !

26 mars 2010
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur When it’s good, nothing’s better !

When it’s good, nothing’s better !

My concern is to speak about honest and frank wines. I’m only seeking for winemakers trying to understand how the ground is working to satisfy grape varieties to produce something good. I don’t care about styles : oaky or not, new world style or terroir wines, brand or tradition, fulbodied or ligth : my only interest is the balance.

What a wonderful discovery to understand the strategy of each grower, attempts they realized to adapt to ground influences and vintages to achieve them wine !

Of course, paying attention on the size and age of oak barrels is necessary to appreciate cellarmaster ageing strategies, but shouldn’t we focus more on our innate tasting ability rather than intellectual skills ?

The more I taste, the better – that makes sens ! I’m bored now with the wines I loved, I prefered reds in the past, I’m looking for the quality of tannins now, I was dazzled with complex maturation – purity of fragrance and austere minerality fulfil my search of perfection.

When we understand how difficult is to ripe a perfect crop, how risky it is to wait one or two more days to harvest, how expensive organic strategies may be…I feel all the humility a wine lover must get in front of a glass. To penetrate the wine potential, I always try to imagine the scenery, the ecological balance, the rock and the wind that helped grapes.

No chance for industrial wines – only good, underrated, small producers that flock in south of France and the great names, of course, that beacame brands as Beaucastel or Tempier !

When its good … wine talks, nothing else !

14 mars 2010
par Marc Jonas
Commentaires fermés sur Oak maturation and burning casks

Oak maturation and burning casks

Wines are matured in oak barrel or in vats (stainless steel or concrete) for 3 main reasons :

  • Modifying the phenolic structure and making tannins smoother
  • Stabilizing the colour, limpidity and colloids
  • Developping aromas

The length of maturation, the use of enological products, temperature, nature of wood affect the result. Mastering maturation in barrel (220 litres, 600 litres or more than 2000 litres or foudres) must be managed with care and knowledge.

Using oak barrels imply a wine more sensibility to acetic, lactic bacteria and bad yeast….Volatile acidity (like vinegar) may increase 0,1 g per litre with re-used barrels and 0,2 g per litre with new barrels.

In oder to avoid « brettanomyces »  taint (a yeast) to the wine, bringing unpleasant flavours, the wine master has to be vigilant on cleanliness. He has to top up carefully each kegs, to keep the cellar at 18°C (64,4°F) maximum and to make sure that free hydrogen sulfite is 25 mg per litre minimum.

Maturation in oak  leads to a micro oxygenation also named oxydoreduction. Air go through the staves and all tiny gaps in the barrel, that brings a regular oxygene incorporation all along the period of maturation, going to polymerisation  improving the global quality.

Non volatile components (phenols) of the oak (there a great deal of variation according to the origine of wood and its drying process) are solvate in wine. That may sometimes bring an harshness to the wine, if its the quality and its tannic structure are not able to undergo oak.

Some volatile components that may be found in oak (as lactons, phenols, aldehyds…) or resulting from the drying process or burning (as phenylcetons…) may be extracted. Flavours as clove, vanilla, almond or grilled almond, caramel, toast and smoke can be found in the wine.

The way to dry the wood and the amount of burning may change the quality and quantity of volatile components,  then bringing complexity or mask the natural charm of the wine, if this one is not able to resist maturation to improve.


  • A strong burning gives : smoke, soot, coffee, caramel aromas as well as a light tanic extraction and a light sugar taste.
  • A medium burning gives : complexity, grilled aromas, spices, vanilla, cocoa, and a light sugar taste.
  • A medium burning gives : mineral aromas, fresh oaky flavours and tanins.

Filling the cask while the wine is still hot (just after the alcoholic fermentation and before the malo-lactic fermentation) may increase the quality potential of aok maturation, but that increases microbiological risks.

To take advantage of the oxydoreduction principle, the maturation must last at least 6 month. Only the tasting of all casks in parallel with chemical analysis can correctly assess the perfect evolution of each barrel, the duration of the maturation and the potential of each wine.

Conseil Oenotourisme -