Chateau Pesquie Cotes-du-Ventoux Les Terrasses 2004 Tasting Notes
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Château Pesquié Côtes-du-Ventoux Les Terrasses 2004 Tasting Notes

The Côtes-du-Ventoux, located in the southern Rhône and dominated by the 6,500 foot Mont Ventoux, have (because of altitude) a cooler climate than most of the surrounding areas. This unique patch of climate has been a major producer of excellent table grapes for many years, but has seen a renaissance of winemaking based on the efforts of dedicated producers like Paul and Edith Chaudière of Château Pesquié. The Chaudières produce a number of white and red wine styles; Les Terrasses is a custom cuvée of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, all from vines aged at least 30 years, created for American importer Eric Solomon. The wine is only partially oaked.

As a responsible wine reviewer, I look at winemaker descriptions (on the back label or on the winemaker's website) only after I make my notes. My usual impulse is to—how can I put this gracefully—“tone down” these descriptions. This discipline is not necessary in the case of the Château Pesquié, whose back label reads “Terrasses is a deep ruby color wine, soft and elegant, with red fruits, spices and garrigues aromas.” I would add a hyphen and an “ed” to yield a properly adjectival “ruby-colored,” but otherwise the producer has nailed it.

The term “Garrigue” refers to a distinct variety of limestone-based scrubland commonly found in the Mediterranean area. These hills have endured the hand of man for millennia in the form of logging, agriculture, burning and other forms of use and abuse. The characteristic vegetation is low and bushy, with distinct aromatic elements like juniper, laurel, wild thyme, lavender and rosemary. When I encounter notes in a wine I consider garrigue, I often break the garrigue down into its constituent parts, but I cannot do so with this wine. My only addition is to call it “smoky” garrigue.

The red fruit, and lovely it is, is raspberry, plum, and strawberry, ripe and jammy in the best sense. I also enjoyed a depth of black fruit: blackberry and cassis. The nose brings mainly these fruits, plus the garrigue and a little bit of heat from 14% alcohol. The palate adds touches of sour cherry and prune to these fruits, a spicy licorice aspect and a fragrant and slightly spicy tobacco. In the mouth, the wine is full-bodied and nicely balanced, although if there is a negative, it may be a tad too much alcohol.

The wine finished with a bit of perky acidity, a dollop of warmth, the caress of supple tannin and of course more of the garrigue. I enjoyed this wine with not the slightest notion that it needed putting aside, though bear in mind I decanted a full eight hours. That was not an easy task, since a decanter of the wine is room-filling.

At $11 to $15 a bottle, depending on outlet, this Côtes-du-Ventoux is a third the price of similar wines from neighboring Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas (and these wines are themselves values compared to many other offerings from France).


Verdict: Buy a Case
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When a wine successfully brings its place of origin into a bottle, the consumer only needs a corkscrew and a glass—and no airline tickets—to visit that place.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

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garrigue
Typical garrigue in the south of France.

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