Richard finds the grrrr in Grenache.
From €8.29, 1,728 Japanese yen, £11.95, $13.58, CA$19.75, SG$50
Grenache is the grape that Pinot Noir wishes it was, especially when it forms a wine as pleasurable as this Côtes du Rhône at such a good price.
For many years, my misassumption about Grenache was that it made a hot mess – pumped-up, over-extracted, soupy red wine that sold at a mystifyingly premium price. That's a gross generalisation, but one based on grains of truth. There are still too many Châteauneuf-du-Papes that fit that description, as there are South Australian Grenaches and Spanish Priorats.
The joy of good Côtes du Rhône is that the fruit doesn't come from the warmest terroirs, where Grenache can easily overripen. Instead, it tends to retain a sense of crunch to the fruit and tension to the structure, further helped by blending with complementary varieties.
So it is with Première Côte from La Ferme du Mont, which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre in the classic recipe of the southern Rhône and its global spin-offs. La Ferme du Mont is a négociant business owned by Stéphane Vedeau of Clos Bellane in the Rhône village of Valréas. There have been around 15 vintages under this label, including a Châteauneuf that was among Jancis's favourites in 2007, rated alongside Ch Rayas, no less.
In our tasting notes database, the 2015 vintage of Première Côte was described by Jancis as 'much, much more interesting than the average Côtes du Rhône! Lots of pace and interest here. Savoury, and really well made. Dramatically better than its class.'
The 2018 bottling, widely available now, has all those qualities, enhanced by the concentration of that vintage. When I tasted it in Singapore last week it was the purity of fruit that impressed me the most: redcurrant, rhubarb, cranberry – the same family of flavours that is promised by Pinot but in a gutsier, more satisfying mouthful. The grapes are mostly sourced from the village of Courthézon, within the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, which no doubt helps explain the superior quality.
At four years old, it is drinking very well now, with beautifully preserved primary fruit and moderate tertiary characters offering the classic garrigue herbiness of the terroir. The 2018 season was marked by low yields and a perfect late summer resulting in excellent harvest conditions – and it shows. I tasted several other wines in the Ferme du Mont range – from Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape – both of which are fine examples of each, but which only serve to re-emphasise the value offered by this Côtes du Rhône.
Main photo taken from the Ferme du Mont Instagram account.
See all the articles we've published featuring Rhône 2018.