|Saint Joseph vineyards|
This producer is Delas Freres, a producer I was familiar with as I had sold many of their products back at home. I had first come into contact with Delas when I attended what I think was my first trade tasting as the wine buyer of King & Godfree, and what a first it was. It was held at two-hat Melbourne restaurant Grossi Fiorentini (which I returned to about one month later to celebrate my mother’s birthday), and the ambiance and food suited the wines perfectly. Wandering around the room tasting through the extensive range was also my first real introduction to Rhone Valley wines, and I was pretty blown away by the diversity and difference of these wines, some of which are made with very familiar varieties. Based on this tasting I stocked several of the wines, including the Tavel Rose, Ventoux, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, and also what was our number one Cotes-du-Rhone red, which I recommended to hundreds of customers. Being so familiar with the brand but now having a lot more experience I was very interested to visit and see what they were all about. I was welcomed by the head of visits to the winery, Bruno Gonnet.
|Commendation award from the 1879 Sydney Wine Competition|
Delas was based originally in Toulon but is now based outside the town in St Jean de Muzols. This makes their heart in the Saint Joseph appellation, and some of their best vineyards are located here, including the fabled Sainte-Epine vineyard. They have a number of vineyards throughout the Northern Rhone, including Cote-Rotie, Hermitage and Condrieu. They purchase fruit from other vineyards in the north, and also a lot more from the south, also from a range of appelations. With so many appellations and single-vineyard wines as well, the range can be quite extensive. Freres meaning brothers refers to the original founders of the winery back in 1835, who actually were commended for their 1870 Hermitage in a wine competition in Sydney back in 1879. Today the winery is owned by the Roederer family, who have more recently improved the selection of wine and fruit, and also the processes used to make and bottle the wine. Red wines are often traditionally fermented in open cement vats and plunged to extract the colour and tannins, before they are racked blended and transported to a combination of tanks and barrels before bottling. The winery uses predominantly Francois Freres barrels for the maturation, but they only use newer barrels for the top red and white wines. My host took me through a pretty comprehensive tasting of mostly the Northern Rhone wines, and you can see my notes here.
|Delas red wines|
Click here to see more photos from Day Four in the Rhone Valley, France. In the next post I visit Jean-Luc Colombo in Cornas.