On Monday 18th January the WING group met to taste Wines of Stéphane Vedeau, guided by Ralph.

Stéphane Vedeau makes handcrafted wines at three separate wineries in the Rhone Valley: Ferme du Mont in Chateauneuf du Pape; Clos Bellane in Valreas; and a winery in the northern Rhone producing wines under his mother’s name, Jeannine Boutin.

Stéphane says. “The ultimate quest is to create elegance and freshness to balance the natural richness found in the fruit of the sites.” To this end he attributes only 20% of the wines quality to winemaking and 80% to terroir. Unsurprisingly much of his vineyards are organic, due to respect for the soil rather than purely ideological commitment.

Ralph concentrated on the 70 year old, more traditional family vineyards in the North, with a “starter” from Clos Bellane.

Here are my notes:
Clos Bellane Cotes du Rhone “Les Eschalas” 2010
This wine is 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. The nose is quite heavy with plum fruit herby and floral notes and quite a meaty hint – rather more Syrah than Grenache. The palate is firm, dark with slightly brackish acidity with herbs, plum and coffee at the end. Long for a CDR, with weighty substance.

Crozes-Hermitage “Les Haut Granites” 2010
This is even more herby perfumed and meaty, with an olive hint. The palate is a bit grainy but a narrower more focused line of flavour, centred upon a firm clean fruit acid line red- and blackcurrant elements. This line leads to a long food-demanding but supple finish. Rather good.

Saint Joseph “Parcelle de Jean” 2010
Floral and forest floor, compost notes – even a smoky touch – with sweeter fruit notes (damson?) unfurling later. Sweetness on the palate leading to a softer grainy chocolate texture, wider but not as focused as the previous wine.

Côte-Rôtie “Bonnevaux” 2010
A big step up in quality (and price) with a fragrant nose with fruity (blackberry and damson) impression. The palate has similar flavours but a velvet texture, long fruit and a warm, spicy expanding-in-the-mouth finish. Very impressive rendition of the appellation.

Côte-Rôtie “Bonnevaux” 2009
This has a much quieter nose with more stewed fruit and heavier concentrated leathery hints. Palate has a smooth texture but spicier fruit and the increased concentration giving a less complex overall impression. Lacking the dimension of elegance that the previous wine showed.

Hermitage “Arena Mica” 2009
This is slightly darker with darker fruit, meaty notes – but lifted by a lighter perfumed aroma. The palate has a sour-cherry acid start then warm and supple tannins and a dry, almost leathery, finish with spicy fruit opening in the mouth. Rather more elegant and supple – even soft – than a typical Hermitage. That said – very good.

A wonderfully interesting tasting, which in the end seemed to show a certain style leading to silky, quite elegant but slightly soft expressions of Syrah. Not that typical (Côte-Rôtie 2010 perhaps excepted) and I liked the wines un-typical inflections as (regular readers will know) I’m not that big a fan of typical Syrah. However, this makes the 20% winemaking idea seem a bit of an underestimate…

Thanks so much Ralph!

Until next time…