Friday, February 25, 2011

Cotes de Provence Sainte-Victoire
Situated on the back side of Mont Sainte-Victoire, a majestic limestone ridge, rests old vines of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache in the vineyards of Domaine Richeaume. Protected by Cezanne's beloved mountain, the vines experience more of a continental climate than Mediterranean and rarely bear the force of the Mistral winds. Saint-Victoire remains one of three cru classes of Cotes de Provence AOC.

Similar to Les Baux de Provence AOC, Sainte-Victoire consists of limestone and clay soils, which produce classic garrigue characteristics in the aromatics and flavor profiles of the wines. Soils are rich in bauxite.

As for terroir reminiscent in the palette, the flavor of the wine I selected from this region was completely opposite in style of the Mas de Gourgonnier red I tasted prior to enjoying this wine.

Fifteen miles east of Aix lies Domaine Richeaume, nestled up against the jagged limestone flank of Mont Sainte-Victoire. An historian and classical cellist, Henning Hoesch, founded the domaine in 1972 and farmed along regimented organic principals. He proved to be a pioneer after being one of the first to plant Cabernet Sauvignon and advocate organic farming, both now staples in Provence. Henning's son, Sylvain, followed in his father's footsteps when he took over the domaine after working alongside Paul Draper at Ridge Winery in 1996 and again in 2000. The domaine encompasses 200 acres of land, devoted to the vine, olive orchards, grains and pasture area for sheep. The Cuvée Tradition flaunts roughly equal parts Cabernet and Grenache, and sometimes a touch of Syrah. This traditional blend combines the masculine austerity of Cabernet with the feminine opulence of Grenache, producing a dark and rich red with lovely aromatics and full sumptuous flavors.

2007 Domaine Richeaume Cuvee Tradition
Opened. Poured. Inhaled deeply. Shocked--initial reaction. Huge oaky overtones. Smelt more reminiscent of Bordeaux, extremely tight, and honestly disappointed, because I went in with premonitions of floral bouquet, garrigue expectations. But, oh, so devastatingly wonderful this wine became. Paired with pork tenderloin I braised in the oven at low temp in a bath of Sam Adams Octoberfest beer (the only meager source of marinade I had at my Mom's house in remote location in Massanutten Resort, Harrisonburg, Virginia--my private escape). Placed pork over sauteed bed of spinach, garlic and onion. After tasting the pork and sipping the wine, the flavors exploded in my mouth. Rich opulence, smooth decadence, over-delivery in the velvet category. Leather, smoke, subtle game fused with red fruits, lavender and herbaceous undertones. Definite power indicative of clay soils displayed. Cabernet heavy for sure. Right on with proprietor's decription of Cabernet masculinity melded with rounded, sumptuous Grenache interminglings. I couldn't stop, be it the intoxicating aroma, the delicious flavor, or the addictive texture sensations, I entered a wine trance. My weekend was justified, my escape from humanity complete. My bondage with Richeaume sealed. The soul of Provence will never forsake me. I'm sold. Terroir or not, this taste forever unforgettable.