Château Pesquié Côtes-du-Ventoux Les Terrasses 2004
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
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.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman
Typical garrigue in the south of France.