Maison Ventenac is run by Stephanie and Olivier Ramy, and they are the third generation of their family to farm these vineyards are in Cabardès. It’s an interesting Languedoc appellation that allows both Atlantic and Mediterranean grape varieties. The soils have quite a bit of limestone in them, and these interesting terroirs have a lot of potential. Maison Ventenac is a big operation, with 160 hectares of vineyards (30 of these are leased), but one of their ranges, Les Dissidents, has recently had a facelift, and I tried 6 wines from this range. These wines are beautifully packaged and quite distinctive.
These are very interesting wines, made naturally, although they wouldn’t qualify as natural wines by most definitions. I’d describe them as ‘new natural’, where techniques have been used to make the wines as naturally as possible, but also offsetting some of the risks of spoilage. One of these is the idea of ‘bioprotection’: inoculating the must with non-saccharomyces yeasts that don’t do hardly any fermentation but which compete with bad microbes. And then the actually alcoholic fermentation is done with indigenous strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Maison Ventenac Marie 2019 Pays d’Oc IGP, France
12% alcohol. 75% Colombard and 25% Chenin Blanc, from clay/limestone soil. Night harvest, then pressing under inert gas. Cold stabulation for six days, then fermented in 3000 litre stainless steel tanks. This is fresh, textured and delicate with lovely pure citrus fruit, good acidity and some subtle saline notes. There’s a lovely acid line here: it’s pure and fine with a tapered finish and some grapefruit notes. Beguiling stuff. 92/100
Maison Ventenac Candide 2019 Vin de France
12% alcohol. Chenin Blanc from calcareous soils, low yields of 25 hl/ha. No sulfite fermentation with bioprotection in 2000 litre foudre, no malolactic. This is very fine and delicate with a lovely texture. It has lemons, mandarins and some floral notes, and a lovely saline presence, as well as fine acidity. Amazing finesse, purity and delicacy here – just sensational. Understated and very elegant: don’t expect power, but instead subtlety and elegance. 94/100
Maison Ventenac Puritaine 2018 Vin de France
13.5% alcohol. 100% Syrah, no added sulphites, with bioprotection. Fermented in concrete tanks with punch downs for the first few days, then pumping over. Half matured in terracotta amphorae and half in a 2000 litre foudre. This is so fine and pure with elegant red cherry fruit with some fine-grained tannins and a touch of pepper. Very balanced with nice purity and elegance. There’s a lovely sheen to the berry and cherry fruits, with just enough structure and acidity to keep things fresh and honest. Lovely finesse to this wine. 93/100
Maison Ventenac Paul 2018 Vin de France
14% alcohol. 100% Cabernet Franc. No sulfite fermentation with bioprotection. Half matured in 150 litre clay vessels and half in 2000 litre foudres. This is really pure and bright with a lovely green framing to the blackcurrant and cherry fruit. There’s a fine spiciness and a silky smooth texture on the palate, with a chalky/clay grainy undercurrent. In terms of palate weight, this is fresh and delicate, but it also shows complexity. Such lovely fruit here, with a bit of grip hiding behind the sleek berry fruits. Such an intriguing wine. 93/100
Maison Ventenac L’Idiot 2019 Vin de France
13.5% alcohol. This is Merlot fermented and matured in concrete with no sulfites. It has a sappy, fresh, aromatic nose with some leafy green notes, but also sweet red cherries and chalk. The palate is grainy and stony and chalky, with lovely structure. And as well as the fine, stony structure there’s sweet berry and cherry fruit. This shows lovely refinement and purity, with good balance between the sweet fruity notes with a hint of lushness, and the grainy, stony chalky notes. A lovely generous wine. 91/100
Maison Ventenac Le Paria 2019 Vin de France
14% alcohol. Grenache. No sulfites fermentation in concrete, then matured in concrete. Supple, elegant, juicy and finely grained. This is very pure with an infusion-like palate of light cherry and raspberry fruit, with a bit of crunch. Expressive and juicy with a real ease to it: not complex, but fresh and warmly fruity, with some peppery hints. A really honest, elegant, detailed, smashable Grenache. 91/100
UK agent: Graft Wines
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