Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Dinner with the Rhône

For dinner last night I brought along a 2011 Sablet. Sablet is a small village situated at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail in the Côtes du Rhône wine region, west of Mont Ventoux.

This region has a long history with the Laithwaite family

and was one of the very first regions Tony bought from. The purity of fruit and softness of the wine went down very well and reminded both Tony and Barbara of many holidays and visits to the area. It also sparked Tony to tell the wonderful story of the Roux family.

The Roux family always had their wine estate but the driving force behind their relatively recent pioneering success was the eldest son Charles. Charles had left the area to study and then work as a pharmacist in Paris. Eventually, when he decided to return to Sablet, he revolutionised the winemaking, and general approach, by going for quality.

Charles’ son André, the dreamer of the family, then came to take over the château. Through his use of carbonic maceration (whole bunch fermentation), the wines became deeply coloured fruit bombs. And without the traditional use of barrels, André’s wines were silky and rich on the palate … just what was needed for the UK market at that time.

Last night we tasted one of his 1978’s and how right André was. The wine was still bright in colour full of fresh black fruits and a supple palate. Incredible wine!

André showed true character when – after some persuasion from Tony – he returned to his old Château as a flying winemaker aged 70+! (His family had forced him to retire years earlier). Sadly, I never met him, but stories of him sitting at the weighing dock during the harvest inspecting each truck and pointing the good ones into our vats whilst ordering the young flying winemaker up and down the winery sound like fabulous sights. And let’s not forget the quality of the wines he made. 

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