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Ventoux AOC – The rising star of the Rhône

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A southern Rhône Cru where biodiversity and a vibrant community of winemakers bring terroir to life.

There’s something poetic and magnetic about the sight of Mont Ventoux, with its white peak towering over the expanse of the eponymous appellation. Its limestone summit gleams all year round, whether snow-capped or not, sitting beneath the clouds or emerging above them, creating an atmospheric tension of drama and suspense.

This iconic mountain, rising nearly 2,000 metres above sea level, is more than just a topographical feature; it is the embodiment of what makes Ventoux AOC special and unique – an alluring, dramatic reminder of the geological, climatic and ecological characteristics that shape the identity of one of the Rhône’s most exciting and dynamic appellations.

The area has long attracted winemakers and entrepreneurs from different geographies and walks of life, drawn to the mystique of the Ventoux, the singularity of the landscape and the opportunity to produce Rhône wines with an identity very much of their own. Outsiders have, for decades, joined a local community – itself diverse – of growers and producers passionate about both Ventoux AOC as a whole and the idiosyncrasies of their own special corners within it. Producers range from small family-owned boutique estates to large, quality-led cooperatives that support a network of growers, big and small, without whom the local economy and landscape would be all the poorer.

Natural diversity

One of the most striking features of Ventoux AOC is the way the landscape changes as one travels across it. Differently coloured soils hint at the underlying geological variation. Different crops coexist interspersed by sections of woods, creating a rich patchwork that allows diverse flora and fauna to thrive. The appellation spreads across two natural parks (Ventoux and Luberon) and two UNESCO biosphere reserves, meaning that biodiversity is structural to the local ecosystem. This in turn creates a fruitful interplay between different species, promoting natural pest management and more balanced ripening of grapes on the vines, as temperature and humidity levels are naturally kept in check.

Due to the range of altitudes at which vines can be found (100-550 metres) and the geological diversity across the appellation, different terroirs and microclimates shape an intricate pattern that yields wines of nuanced variety. Ventoux is home to, broadly speaking, four types of soils: limestone, clay, sand and marl. These, however, can be found in multiple layering and combined variations, further adding to geological complexity.

Ventoux AOC attracts winemakers and entrepreneurs from different geographies and walks of life

Ventoux AOC attracts winemakers and entrepreneurs from different geographies and walks of life

Pragmatic pioneers

Ventoux producers have developed a deep awareness of the value of the natural assets they have been given – not least because their terroir now puts them in a privileged position in the face of climate change. If once the region struggled to deliver the conditions for optimal grape ripening and desired alcohol levels, today the fruit achieves balance and retains finesse, while other regions struggle with steep ABV levels and unbalanced phenolic maturity.

Leveraging this ‘natural privilege’ has required a concerted collective effort, seen not just in the way the grapes are handled in the vineyard and in the cellar but in the appellation’s overall approach to the stewardship of its natural resources – of which the preservation of the above-mentioned biodiversity is the perfect example.

This holistic and pragmatic approach to sustainability is also reflected in pioneering initiatives to reduce environmental impact across the supply chain. Ventoux AOC has researched and started to implement the use of reusable bottles, for instance, in a pioneering initiative that will hopefully become a template for other appellations and regions to follow.

Wine tourism is another strategic area of development, used to promote the viticultural wealth of a previously overlooked Rhône appellation, and also to bring the uniqueness of its landscape to the forefront. Mont Ventoux’s legendary status among the cycling community – as one of the toughest climbs in the Tour de France, if not in competitive cycling as a whole – has long attracted sports and nature lovers to the region. By welcoming these visitors to their estates, producers have been able to develop a fruitful relationship with an audience already particularly attuned to the value of the landscape and the holistic meaning of ‘terroir’.

Mont Ventoux’s legendary status among the cycling community – as one of the toughest climbs in the Tour de France

Mont Ventoux has legendary status among the cycling community

The truth is in the bottle

The viticultural value of Ventoux’s landscape, biodiversity and mesoclimate can only be assessed through the quality of wines produced. Although there’s a significant variety of terroirs, amplified by a diverse winemaking community with distinct philosophies and approaches, the baseline quality of Ventoux’s wines stands out, as do the region’s flagship features: freshness and balance. Consistency across styles and price points ultimately allows Ventoux to offer great value, from entry-level everyday drinkers to the appellation’s top bottles, whose ageability should not be underestimated.

Ventoux’s reds have the ability to deliver elegant tannins paired with vibrant yet supple acidity. There’s a fresh, crunchy quality to the fruit throughout, superb alcohol integration and a particular focus to the overall structure. Again, this is consistent with the cellaring potential of the appellation’s best examples – if anything, Ventoux’s best reds are perhaps drunk too young.

Altitude and temperature variations also mean that the region has a natural vocation for white wine production; the Rhône’s white varieties are able to develop their trademark aromatic intensity while retaining lively acidity. The most accomplished bottles also make good use of phenolics, for extra texture and food-pairing appeal. This last feature is also one of the signatures of Ventoux’s increasingly popular rosés, which marry vibrant acidity with tannic poise in a particularly alluring way.

As regions worldwide brace for ever more challenging conditions – meaning, in the worst cases, the inability to deliver consistency and balance any longer – Ventoux AOC is emerging as a precious source of freshness and purity. At the foot of the towering Mont Ventoux, the AOC’s producers are looking up and ahead.

Ventoux AOC at a glance:

Located on the southeastern edge of the southern Rhône, on the left bank, with Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape to the northwest and Luberon to the south.

Granted AOC status in 1973.

Area under vine: 5,300 hectares (2023 data) – 20% of which certified Organic

Producers/négociants: 130

Cooperatives: 13

Annual production: 201,850 hl (2021), 247,241 hl (2022)

Climate: predominantly Mediterranean, but dramatically influenced by altitude and by the northerly Mistral wind, with significant diurnal and annual temperature amplitude.

Styles of wine produced: dry white (8% of production), rosé (38%) and red (54%)

Grape varieties:

Reds – Grenache Noir, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Marselan and Piquepoul Noir

Whites – Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, Viognier, Vermentino, Bourboulenc and Marsanne Blanc

 


Ventoux AOC – 24 wines to try:

Whites

Château Juvenal, Ribes du Vallat, Ventoux 2022

Château Juvenal, Ribes du Vallat, Ventoux 2022
An interesting and complex wine, with fleshy orchard fruit, subtle nuttiness (blanched almonds, fresh hazelnuts) and an elegant mineral backbone. Very food-friendly with good mid-palate weight. Finishes with a saline and toasty twist. Organic certified. Alc 14%
92 points

Château Pesquié, Quintessence, Ventoux 2022

Château Pesquié, Quintessence, Ventoux 2022
Great tension and focus. Vibrant white and yellow citrus (lemon, white grapefruit, yuzu) in counterpoint to crunchy yellow apple, pear and juicy melon. Good acidity throughout and a zesty, lively finish. Alc 13.5%
91 points

Maison Phetisson Bonnefoy, Caroline Bonnefoy, Ventoux 2022

Maison Phetisson Bonnefoy, Caroline Bonnefoy, Ventoux 2022 
Deep and intense, with a crunchy core of green apple, peach and apple peel, smoky nuances (toasted almonds, hazelnut shells) and wild fennel spiciness. Focused, robust acidity. Organic certified. Alc 13%
91 points

Domaine Marsaleix, Phoenix, Ventoux 2021

Domaine Marsaleix, Phoenix, Ventoux 2021 
Seductive mineral and zesty nose, dominated by lemon zest, melon and crunchy pineapple. On the palate, lime zest and lemon curd are topped by chamomile and freshly cut celery. Subtle smoky flintiness. Good tension throughout. Alc 13.5%
90 points

Rhonéa, Passe Colline, Ventoux 2023

Rhonéa, Passe Colline, Ventoux 2023
An enjoyable and refreshing wine, perfect for the Spring days ahead. Lime zest, crunchy pear, green apple and white grapefruit mingle on the palate, lifted by hints of white flowers, jasmine and linden. Vibrant zesty acidity throughout. Alc 13.5%
89 points

Rosés

Via Caritatis, Lux de Cælo Rosé, Ventoux 2022

Via Caritatis, Lux de Cælo Rosé, Ventoux 2022 
A deep salmon rosé with aromas of orange zest, wild strawberries, cranberry, redcurrant and red cherry. The palate is focused, with good acid tension and pink grapefruit zestiness, while subtle herbaceousness adds nuance. Drinks like a good white, with great food pairing potential. Alc 14%
91 points

Château Saint Pons, Les Justes, Ventoux 2022

Château Saint Pons, Les Justes, Ventoux 2022 
Pale salmon. Pink citrus and sweet red fruit dominate – raspberry, wild strawberry, red apple, pink grapefruit – topped by floral and herbal notes (rose petals, crushed mint). Good persistence and textural character. HVE certified. Alc 13%
90 points

Reds 2022

Martinelle, Ventoux 2022

Martinelle, Ventoux 2022 
Deep and fragrant bouquet, with ripe black fruit (blueberry and thyme jam, plum) against a background of violets. The palate surprises for its freshness and firm acid line, which helps lift the warmth of the alcohol. Nice complexity and potential to age in bottle, developing a savoury edge. Long finish. Organic certified. Alc 14.5%
92 points

Domaine Aymard, Les Grappes, Ventoux 2022

Domaine Aymard, Les Grappes, Ventoux 2022 
Fragrant, very Grenache-led nose, with delicate red fruit and rose petal aromas topped by an exotic touch of passionfruit, papaya, guava and banana. Super fresh and vibrant, with loads of drinkability, juiciness and alluring, soft tannins. Alc 14.5%
91 points

Domaine des Peyre, La Gazette, Ventoux 2022

Domaine des Peyre, La Gazette, Ventoux 2022 
Elegant, savoury nose of liquorice and sage, with a flinty edge. Very pleasant and intriguing on the palate, with depth and complexity. Needs time in bottle to integrate wood and soften the tannins, but there’s great potential here. HVE certified. Alc 15%
91 points

Rémy Ferbras, Rémy Ferbras, Ventoux 2022

Rémy Ferbras, Rémy Ferbras, Ventoux 2022 
Vibrant red fruit underpinned by a savoury and smoky edge. The smooth tannins are lined by a seductive earthiness – dried herbs, barnyard, charred wood. Approachable yet structured, with supple acidity adding freshness and length. Pleasant finish with a zesty kick. Alc 14.5%
91 points

Bonpas, Grande Réserve des Challières, Ventoux 2022

Bonpas, Grande Réserve des Challières, Ventoux 2022 
Although the red fruit has a somewhat confected quality on the nose, the palate surprises with its vibrancy, zesty juiciness and focus. Ripe strawberry, plum and raspberry mingle, lifted by a firm acid line throughout. Alc 13.5%
90 points

Domaine Solence, Les 3 Pères, Ventoux 2022

Domaine Solence, Les 3 Pères, Ventoux 2022 
Playful flintiness over black fruit and herbs on the nose. The palate is elegant and complex, with well-honed tannins and a transparent quality to the plum, blackcurrant, blackberry, wild oregano, thyme and black olive flavours. An elegant wine. Organic certified. Alc 13.5%
90 points

Jullien Thomas, Sur le Fil, Ventoux 2022

Jullien Thomas, Sur le Fil, Ventoux 2022
Very delicate character to the fruit, led by ripe strawberries, cranberry and plum jam. An earthy edge adds rustic allure. Lingering strawberry on the finish, held by soft savoury tannins. Very approachable and drinkable, perfect for wine bars. Organic certified. Alc 12%
90 points

Reds 2021

Le Mas des Flauzières, La Reserve de Pereyras, Ventoux 2021

Le Mas des Flauzières, La Reserve de Pereyras, Ventoux 2021 
Poised, firm tannins hold a core of pure black fruit (prune, blackcurrant, cassis). Thyme, oregano, dried sage and mint play in the background. Good balance, tension and focus throughout; a nice, refreshing finish with a black tea edge. A very fine wine. HVE certified. Alc 13%
92 points

Cave de Bonnieux, Terres Rouges, Ventoux 2021

Cave de Bonnieux, Terres Rouges, Ventoux 2021 
Alluring nose, a touch reductive, with a deep core of black fruit. This intense dark fruit is underpinned by a layer of garrigue and charred wood. Nice tannic framework with hints of pepper and anise spice. Long finish with lingering tapenade and sweet liquorice. Alc 14.5%
90 points

Domaine du Chat Blanc, Cuvée Première, Ventoux 2021

Domaine du Chat Blanc, Cuvée Première, Ventoux 2021 
Deep and intense aromas of black fruit, garrigue and black olive tapenade. Good focus throughout and a delicious savoury finish, of salty liquorice, thyme and wild oregano. Hints of forest floor and wild herbs add intrigue and complexity. Organic certified. Alc 14.5%
89 points

Reds 2020

Domaine de Fondrèche, Il Etait une Fois, Ventoux 2020

Domaine de Fondrèche, Il Etait une Fois, Ventoux 2020 
Deep, intriguing nose with notes of seaweed, bay leaf and Earl Grey tea. On the palate this savoury complexity is underscored by plum, red cherry and wild strawberry fruit. A lovely balance of juiciness and savoury depth; good energy driven by fine, refreshing tannins. Alc 14.5%
92 points

Domaine Leschancel, Lerécit Rouge, Ventoux 2020

Domaine Leschancel, Lerécit Rouge, Ventoux 2020 
Lovely savoury layer of bay leaf, oregano and tapenade lining the crunchy and juicy raspberry, cranberry and sour cherry fruit. Firm yet fine tannins. A really pleasant and lively wine, with drinkability, energy and complexity in equal measures. Alc 14%
91 points

Domaine des Anges, Archange, Ventoux 2020

Domaine des Anges, Archange, Ventoux 2020 
Seductive, deep nose of black cherry, dark plum, prune, dried figs and cherry compote. There’s energy and focus throughout, with zesty acid and well presented tannins lifting the ripe fruit, alongside touches of sage, oregano and tapenade. Pleasantly refreshing finish. Alc 15%
91 points

Domaine Vindemio, Amadeus, Ventoux 2020

Domaine Vindemio, Amadeus, Ventoux 2020 
Lifted notes of red fruit and dried herbs dominate the bouquet. Cranberry juice, raspberry and wild strawberry mingle on the palate, lifted by good focus and acidity. Elegant savoury tail of wild oregano and thyme. Organic certified. Alc 15%
89 points

Reds 2019-2017

Chêne Bleu, Astralabe, Ventoux 2019

Chêne Bleu, Astralabe, Ventoux 2019
A layered wine, with good intensity and focus. The fleshy core of black fruit (mulberry, prune, blackberry) is lined with dried thyme, tarragon and sage. Wild oregano, sweet liquorice and black olive linger on the palate. Some ageing potential still. Biodynamic certified. Alc 14%
90 points

Château Unang, La Gardy, Ventoux 2018

Château Unang, La Gardy, Ventoux 2018 
A characterful wine, with a delicious palate of red fruit topped by a vegetal layer. Sour cherry, rhubarb, red plum and blood orange dominate, with a juicy fleshiness throughout. Very fresh and lifted, with tomato leaf and guava on the finish. Alc 14%
92 points

Domaine Vintur, Le Gentleman, Ventoux 2017

Domaine Vintur, Le Gentleman, Ventoux 2017
Very playful interplay of earthy, herbal and ripe red fruit notes; sour cherry, blood orange and red plum are underscored by crushed mint, sage and oregano. Fine, refreshing tannins – an interesting wine with energy and character. Organic certified. Alc 14.5%
92 points


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