The ripe, sweet nose is redolent with ripe dark berries, red fruit and hints of pepper, smoke and spice. The palate is lush and savory with sweet berry fruits and a hint of meatiness.
Chene Bleu is nestled in the foothills of France217;s Mont Ventoux, where the boundaries of Gigondas, Cotes du Ventoux, Cotes du Rhone and Seguret come together. This 340 acre property sits within a 200,000 acre UNESCO designated nature preserve and is named after the centuries-old oak tree that graces the property. The winery dates back to the early Middle Ages it was a priory of the Knights Templar and home to the celebrated 15th century glassblower Aliot de Montvin. Chene Bleu remained a working vineyard until the 1960’s when it was abandoned due to conflicting inheritance and ownership claims. Xavier and Nicole Rolet bought the property in 1993 and have meticulously restored the estate to its former glory. Chene Bleu is almost entirely a family affair. Nicole handles marketing and sales and is the cofounder of the International Grenache Symposium and Association. Xavier’s sister Benedicte and her husband Jean-Louis Gallucci are viticulturist and winemaker respectively. Renowned soil experts Claude and Lydia Bourguignon advise on farming practices and international wine consultants Philippe Cambie and Zelma Long work closely with the team. In 2006, they completed a state of the art, four story, gravity fed winery. After more than 40 years of neglect, the 87 acre vineyard required extensive renovation; where necessary, parcels were replanted with selection massale vines from the estate. The vineyard, high on the slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail at 1,800-2,000 feet at approximately the same latitude as Gigondas, is planted with Rhone varietals. It sits on a slab of Jurassic limestone, upon which are compressed layers of schist, chalk, clay, black shale, sand and silt. In certain parcels, the rocky substrata has been pushed to the surface and one can see large seashells and other remnants of marine life that once occupied the region. The thin clay and chalk top soils are generally poor, which forces the vines to dig through rock to reach the subterranean water tables. The Rolets are firm believers in the benefits of biodynamic farming. Vineyard work is timed according to the biodynamic calendar and the vines are treated with homeopathic solutions no synthetic chemicals are used. Bamboo was planted on the estate to recycle wastewater and organically raised sheep graze through the vineyards, providing weed control as well as fertilizer. Vine training was changed to double cordon and yields are kept low. The climate of the area warm days, cool nights and strong winds tends to produce concentrated and balanced fruit. The terrain is uneven and rugged so all vineyard work, including harvest, must be done by hand. In 2006, the Rolets completed a state of the art, four story, gravity fed winery. Only estate fruit is used for Chene Bleu wines. At harvest, whole bunches are immediately transported to the winery and sorted twice. 90% of the red grapes and all of the whites are destemmed. A Vaslin press is used to gently press the grapes and each parcel is vinified separately. The whites and roses are housed in 22 temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the reds ferment in stainless steel or conical oak tanks. The wines are aged in oak, steel, concrete, or a combination thereof, depending on the varietal and parcel. The wines are generally aged in equal proportions of new and year-old barrels from France’s top cooperages. The family has deliberately stepped outside the current AOC framework to create wines that express a specific sense of place rather than conforming to appellation standards. This places them in a new category of wines that journalists have dubbed “Super-Rhones.
|(60% Syrah/37% Grenache/3% Viognier). The wine is an homage to Heloise, the “Juliet of France. Grenache from 45+ year old vines and Syrah from 30+ year old vines were cold macerated for three days in wood tanks, fermented for 10 days with punch downs, pumps overs and delestage twice a day, then macerated on their skins for three weeks. Aged for 11 months in new and neutral oak, the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered and aged for an additional 4-5 years.