Usseglio Ventoux Rouge 2017 $15.99
Though we believe that there is a place on the table for all great wines year-round, there is no denying the satisfaction that can be found in a glass of burly, spicy red as the first wisps of winter begin to creep up on us. And, for that, you can do no better than the best wines coming out of the Southern Rhône. It is a bit of a paradox, that this–one of France’s most beautiful regions–is also its best source of wines that punch way above their weight. This month we’ll explore two examples of just that. We begin with one of the finest producers of Châteauneuf du Pape–the region’s most prized wine, Domaine Usseglio. Pioneers of Biodynamics in the region, they are known for their elegant touch in what is otherwise an appellation known for producing big, robust wines. Stéphane Usseglio’s secret, though, it’s his Ventoux Rouge, a Grenache-Syrah-Carignan blend made with the same care as his finest Châteauneuf cuvées.
This lovely bottle of Ventoux rouge pulls you in on the nose, with its notes of Provençal herbs, blackberries, and earth. On the palate, the floral-herbal nature comes through in full force with notes of lavender, rosemary, and thyme framing its predominantly dark-fruited character. A big, tannic wine it may be, it is not without ample freshness on the back-end, making a second or third glass hard to resist. Braised beef or lamb of any kind will be just about perfect with this bottle. We recommend trying it with our recipe for Garlic and Red Wine Braised Short Ribs. You won’t regret it.
Though not impossible, it is extremely difficult to find well-made wines such as this that offer such a compelling value and are also farmed organically, let alone biodynamically. After all, working in such a manner in the vineyard is both time-consuming and costly, not to mention that Biodynamic viticulture is specifically hostile to overproduction. As such, it is painfully difficult to make value-driven wine in this manner. And yet, after years of experience doing just that in Châteauneuf, the Usseglio’s have brought it to the Ventoux. It’s a pleasure to have this Biodynamic gem of theirs in the club this month.