Rhone discovery (6) a big tasting of Ventoux wines

The Ventoux appellation in the southern Rhône is seriously underrated. I spent a few days there and came away enthused by the freshness of the wines. The landscape is dominated by Mont Ventoux, which reaches 1912 m in altitude. Mont Ventoux is well known to cycle fans around the world as being a key (and rather brutal) stage in the Tour de France. At 1912 m Mont Ventoux is one of the biggest mountains in France, and it dominates the appellation of Ventoux. The wine region is in the east of the Rhône, and it has a big surface area. But much of this area is taken up by the mountain, so the potential viticultural areas are restricted.

But, still, 150 producers farm 5623 hectares, which makes it pretty sizeable. The wine produced is 54% red, 38% rose and 8% white. The AOC was born in 1973, and before this, it was all cooperative production. Private estates began with the creation of the AOC, and there was a big expansion in the 1990s. The benefit of this location is that many of the vineyards have freshness that is welcomed these days, but in the past made it hard to ripen some of the vines.

  • There are 51 communes here, with 13 Cooperatives and 130 private cellars.
  • 896 hectares are in organic production. The key red varieties: 55% Grenache, 27% Syrah
  • Key white varieties: 33% Grenache Blanc, 27% Clairette, 14% Bourboulenc, 13% Viognier.

Most of the vineyards are to the east of the mountain, on the flats and up the slopes. The cool air descends the mountain at night and cools the vineyards down. This gives a fairly wide diurnal range during the latter part of the growing season, which helps preserve freshness in the wines. But this is a warm Mediterranean climate overall, and the wines reflect this in the generosity of flavour.

‘Ventoux takes its name from the Mountain, which is almost 2000 m high,’ says Frédéric Chaudière of Château Pesquié, who is currently president of the AOC. ‘If I had to make a simple equation it would be that Ventoux = influence of the mountain = cooler climate = fresher and balanced wines.’

Is there much heterogeneity within the appellation? ‘There is a great diversity, for sure,’ says Chaudière. ‘The DNA is our cooler climate, the fact that we pick later, and we have this good natural acidity. But then in the same way that we have a list of grape varieties, we do have a variety of geologies. The limestone component is still the dominant one. The limestone usually fosters freshness. But there are also pockets of sand, different kinds of clay, and clay-limestone, with blue marl sometimes.’

Are you quite excited about whites? ‘We are. There is of course a general trend in the Rhône towards more whites, but because of both the limestone and the cool climate, we have fresh whites, and also with quite different profiles, from Clairette to Grenache Blanc.

For reds? ‘Grenache is the lead but I see Cinsault and Mourvèdre going up slowly. Finally we are starting to make ripe Mourvèdre, which in the 1980s was almost impossible in the Ventoux. Cinsault brings more balance and lightness in the richness of our blends and this is also grown more.’

As with all AOCs, there are quite a few rules. In terms of varietal breakdown, reds have to be a blend of at least two of the following: Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre or Syrah, with some supporting varieties. Rosés are similar. Whites must be a blend too.

Significantly, for the whites, the two leading varieties are both capable of delivering freshness in warm climates: Grenache Blanc (33% of white plantings) and Clairette (27%). For reds, Grenache Noir (55%) and Syrah (28%) dominate, with the next two most abundant varieties the eminently useful Carignan and Cinsault, giving winegrowers a nice palette of suitable grapes to play with. Caladoc, a red variety, might soon become officially accepted too.

The appellation are also working on protecting biodiversity, and reducing carbon footprint. One initiative is to create a unique bottle with a branding so that they can re-use these bottles after washing.


Le Mas des Flauzieres, La Beaume Ventoux Blanc 2022
Clairette 45%, Roussanne 45%, Viognier 10%. Highly aromatic with some grapey richness and a touch of honey and peach. Rich and grapey, this tastes very muscat-like. Has some sweetness to the fruit. 88/100

Cave La Romaine Blanc Volupté Ventoux Blanc 2022
Grenache blanc 90%, Rolle 10%. Bright and expressive this has really appealing citrus and pear fruit with a touch of peach. Shows good freshness and a fine spiciness. Nice weight of flavour here with a spicy flourish on the finish. 91/100

Domaine de Fenouillet Hippolyte Ventoux Blanc 2022
Roussanne 50%, Viognier 25%, Rolle 25%. Fruity, clean and textural with sweet pear and citus fruit as well as some melony richness. Juicy and expressive with a slight salinity on the finish. Has some mid-palate volume. Very appealing. 93/100

Domaine Vintur Tradition Ventoux Blanc 2022
Organic. Grenache blanc 60%, Roussanne 25%, Clairette 5%, Rolle 5%, Bourboulenc 5%. This is very bright, fresh, stony and lively. Wet stones underpin the alert citrus fruit with a tapering, slightly salty finish. Lots of brightness and precision here. Such focus. 93/100

Plein Pagnier Terres d’Edouard Ventoux Blanc 2022
Clairette 50%, Grenache blanc 20%, Roussanne 15%, Viognier 15%. Very brightly fruity and quite delicate with white peach, lemon and canteloup melon. This is bright, fine and pure with nice texture and a smooth mid-palate. Tangy edge to the finish. 92/100

Domaine Trélus Ventoux Blanc 2022
Grenache blanc 40%, Bourboulenc 30%, Rolle 30%. Unusual squat bottle shape. Sweetly aromatic with a touch of honey as well as bright citrus. Pithy and powerful on the palate with high acid, some sourness and a touch of bitterness. Very unusual: an impact wine. 90/100

Chateau Cedrus Cuvée Saint Laurent Ventoux Blanc 2022
Grenache blanc 90%, Viognier 10%. Attractively packaged. This has a creamy edge to the sweet pear and peach fruit with some nice acidity. Honeyed and rich with some depth. Bold and quite salty on the finish. 91/100

Domaine Childéric Sous les étoiles Ventoux Blanc 2022
Clairette 70%, Roussanne 30%. Lovely weight and texture here with a gentle spicy underpinning to the sweet pear and citrus fruit with some melony depth. Textural and well balanced, this has a lot of appeal. 93/100

Domaine la Camarette Blanc Armonia 2023
Grenache blanc 85%, Roussanne 15%. Very youthful and fruity with a pear drop edge to the bright citrus fruit. Primary and showing fermentation aromas at the moment. Modern and fruity. 88/100

Domaine des Garances Ventoux Blanc Lescale 2023
Clairette 65%, Grenache blanc 30%, Roussanne 5%. Bright, focused and fresh with lively pear and citrus fruit. Quite youthful and taut with appealing fruit. Shows a slight saltiness. 90/100

Ogier Ventoux Blanc Les Berceaux 2023
Bourboulenc 50%, Clairette 41%, Vermentino 9%. Taut, fruity and primary with nice bright citrus fruit. Mandarin, pear and citrus with a slight spicy edge to the vivid fruit. Really well made. 91/100

Cave de Lumieres Blanc Aubepine 2023
Clairette 40%, Grenache blanc 30%, Roussanne 30%. Lovely vibrant primary fruit here with nice juiciness and brightness. Shows good acidity and a slight pithy edge adding some bitter interest to the finish. 89/100

Vignerons des Dentelles Rhonéa Ventoux Blanc Passe Colline 2023
Clairette 47%, Grenache 28%, Vermentino 25%. Vivid, fruity and primary with pear drops, citrus and a touch of melon. Fruit forward with nice focus and weight showing a juicy quality to the finish. 88/100

Les Vignerons du Mont-Ventoux Ventoux Blanc Secrets des Dames 2023
Grenache blanc 60%, Clairette 20%, Bourboulenc 10%, Roussanne 10%. Zesty, lemony and fruity with nice purity to the citrus and pear fruit, with pear drop fermentation aromas dominating the nose. Nice weight and balance here. 87/100

Domaine de la Verrière Ventoux Blanc 2023
Rolle 60%, Clairette 35%, Roussanne 15%. Fruity and expressive with nice texture to the open pear and citrus fruit, showing some hints of dried herbs, cooked cabbage and salt on the finish. 89/100

TerraVentoux Ventoux Blanc Les 5 Terroirs 2023
Clairette 50%, Grenache blanc 50%. Nice concentration here. Lively, bright and citrussy with some peach and pear richness. Has a slight smokiness and a pronounced minerality. Nice precision to this wine. 92/100

Domaine Les Baies Goûts Ventoux Blanc Miss Terre 2023
Roussanne 60%, Grenache blanc 30%, Rolle 10%. Nice depth with a touch of baked apple and spice as well as rich pear and citrus fruit. Textural and quite broad, this is a rich wine with lots of personality. 90/100

Le Coulet Rouge Ventoux Blanc 2023
Grenache blanc 40%, Roussanne 30%, Viognier 30%. Fresh and expressive, this shows the rich peach and apricot flavours of Viognier blend well with the Roussanne and Grenache Blanc to give a  wine with both richness and freshness, with a broad mid-palate. Nice finesse here. 93/100

Philip Gimel Saint Jean du Barroux Ventoux Blanc La Montagne 2021
13% alcohol. Stainless steel. North slope of Mont Ventoux at 350 m, 50 year old vines. Complex and layered with sweet cherry, pear and melon fruit, backed up by some spicy citrus. Has freshness and depth and finishes with some wet stone minerality. 93/100

Domaine de Mas Caron Mariage Ventoux Blanc 2022
12% alcohol. Organic. A blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier, this is lively and vivid with zesty citrus fruit, good acidity and a twist of bitterness on the finish. Youthful and assertive with nice fresh fruity notes. 91/100


Château Pesquié Ventoux Rosé Quintessence 2022
Grenache noir 70%, Cinsault 20%, Clairette 10%. Pink/orange in colour. This is a complex, textured gastronomic rosé with a core of sweet strawberry fruit and some fine herbal hints. Lively but also with some depth, it also has some salty minerality. Utterly compelling. 93/100

Maison Phetisson Bonnefoy Ventoux Rosé 2023
Grenache noir 80%, Cinsault 15%, Syrah 5%.Modern, primary and very fruity with some pear drop notes showing still, and a core of sweet cherry and berry fruits, as well as some citrus. Nice brightness here. 90/100

Sylla Cuvée Parcellaires Ventoux Rosé 2023
Cinsault 38%, Rolle 31%, Grenache noir 20%, Syrah 9%, Clairette 1%, Carignan 1%. Pale pink in colour, this is fruity and rounded with nice sweetness to the cherry and pear fruit, finishing with some fine spicy notes. Has volume. 89/100

Domaine de Fondrèche Ventoux Rosé 2023
Cinsault 50%, Syrah 20%, Grenache noir 20%, Mourvèdre 10%. Attractively packaged with a pale pink colour in the glass. It’s really fresh and zesty in the mouth with nice citrus fruit drive and some cherry and berry fruits. Nice purity and focus here. Very fine. 92/100

Cave Saint Marc Ventoux Rosé 2023
Grenache noir 60%, Cinsault 40%. Pale pink in colour with lovely balance. Understated flavours of citrus, pear and raspberry with a lightness and some nice texture. Very well made with some gastronomic potential. 91/100

Domaine Marsaleix Ventoux Rosé Alcyon 2023
Cinsault 70%, Syrah 30%. Textural and fruity with bright cherries and berries, showing good weight and freshness. Very appealing with a hint of white pepper on the finish. Textural and fine. 92/100


Chene Bleu Ventoux Rouge Abelard 2014
Grenache noir 85%, Syrah 15%. Sweetly fruited with a nice core of cherry and plum fruit with some fine herbal hints. It’s warm, smooth and satisfying and has aged well into this mellow maturity. Has some signs of malt and earth from development over the last 9 years. 93/100

Domaine Dambrun Ventoux Rouge 2017
Syrah, Grenache noir, Cinsault, Counoise, Carignan. Warmly aromatic with sweet cherries and berries. Rich, ripe and warm with spicy detail and notes of dried herbs and sweet plums. Has a core of rich, spice-laden sweet fruit. 92/100

Clos de Trias Ventoux Rouge Red Label 2019
Grenache noir 80%, Syrah 11%, Cinsault 5%, Carignan 4%. Oxidative with very sweet strawberry and cherry fruit. Either it’s made in this sweet, jammy, stewed style, or else it has aged badly. Too oxidative for me. 82/100

Via Caritatis Ventoux Rouge Lux Aeterna 2019
Syrah 60%, Grenache noir 35%, Marselan 5%. Very rich and warm (15.5% alcohol) with lots of concentrated berry and cherry fruit. Warm and spice-laden with nice density. Bold and vivid with nice depth. Some saline hints on the finish, which also carries quite a bit of tannin. 91/100

Domaine des Hauts Traversiers Ventoux Rouge La Foudonne 2019
Grenache noir 70%, Syrah 30%. Bold and rich, and also a little baked with a dryness to the palate. Bold berry and black fruits with some nice tannic structure under the lush fruit. 86/100

Domaine Les Chancel Lecrit Ventoux Rouge 2019
Carignan 40%, Syrah 30%, Grenache noir 30%. Fresh, bright and linear with good acidity and a touch of cranberry brightness as well as red cherry fruit with a bit of plum. Subtle peppery notes here. Has elegance and is developing very nicely. 94/100

Philippe Gimel Saint Jean du Barroux La Pierre Noire Ventoux Rouge 2019
15% alcohol. Ripe and rich but really well balanced with sweet black cherries and blackberries with a slight saltiness, notes of pepper and Mediterranean herbs and good tannins. Lovely weight here: a bold wine that could age well. 94/100

Domaine de Mas Caron Garance Ventoux Rouge 2019
14.5% alcohol. Lovely liqueur-like cherry and berry fruits here with a core of sweet fruit supplemented by dried herbs and a fine pepperiness. Very textural and fine with nice weight and purity. 94/100

Chateau la Croix des Pins Ventoux Rouge Le Petit Nysse  2020
Grenache noir 90%, Carignan 10%. Sweetly fruited with ripe cherry and plum fruit. Weighs in at 15.5% alcohol but wears it well. Sweet cherries and plums with some lushess and some mediterannean herbs in the mix. 92/100

Domaine Solence Ventoux Rouge Moitié vide Moitié pleine 2020
Syrah 70%, Marselan 30%. Olive, spices, peppers, red berries, strawberries: this has quite some volume in the mouth with a dried herb quality and a touch of greenness from the Marselan. 90/100

Mas Oncle Ernest Ventoux Rouge Ici Le Temps S’Arrete 2020
Grenache noir 90%, Syrah 10%. Ripe, rich and dense with bold sweet blackberry fruit and slight saltiness on the finish. Lush and rich with a core of sweet fruit. 90/100

Domaine de Champ Long Ventoux Rouge Autrefois 2021
Syrah 95%, Grenache noir 5%. Ripe and bold with good tannins sitting under the sweet berry fruits. Quite rich and intense with some oak in the mix, it seems. Very well made and potentially ageworthy. 92/100

Château Unang Rouge La Source 2021
Grenache noir 40%, Syrah 20%, Mourvèdre 20%, Cinsault 20%. Rich and intense with sweet berry fruits showing some notes of herb and pepper. Has good structure and freshness with nice bright berry fruits on the finish. Slightly salty, too. 93/100

Domaine de Piéblanc Ventoux Rouge La Tuilière 2021
Nicely textured with a core of sweet berry and cherry fruits. The palate is smooth and lush but there’s some nice freshness on the finish. Good balance to this wine which is ripe, but handles the ripeness well. 93/100

Domaine du Tix Rouge L’Affaire Terre 2021
Grenache noir 56%, Syrah 44%. Grenache and Syrah raised in clay. Concentrated and dense with sweet cherries and berries, showing a powerful core of fruit with some nice structure and notes of minerals and spice, and also a stony clay-like edge. Bold and dense with a salty edge to the fruit. Quite lovely. 95/100

Domaine Souleyrol Ventoux Rouge Philia 2021
Syrah 95%, Grenache noir 5%. 15% alcohol. Dense and ripe but still has balance with ginger, pepper and clove hints under the sweet blackberry fruit. Salty on the finish. Combines very ripe fruit with freshness to good effect. 93/100

Domaine du Chat Blanc Ventoux Rouge Cuvée Première 2021
Syrah 50%, Grenache noir 50%. Vivid and dense with firm tannins sitting under bold fruit. Has grip and purpose. Slightly ashy edge to the rich fruit here is a bit offputting. 90/100

Domaine Alloïs Ventoux Rouge Infiniment  2021
Syrah 70%, Grenache noir 30%. Nice density of fruit here. Firm tannins under sweet strawberry and raspberry, with some pepper and dried herbs in the mis. Has a gastronomic quality. Slightly peppery on the finish. 93/100

Domaine Les Davids Ventoux Rouge Dernières Terres 2021
Syrah 70%, Carignan 30%. 600 m altitude. Vivid and focused with firm tannic structure, good acidity, and lively cherry and raspberry fruit. Juicy and bright with pepper and olive notes as well as some cedar and spice. Such a vivid, intense wine this has lots of personality. 93/100

Domaine Les Patys Ventoux Rouge  Arakao Bio 2021
Grenache noir 65%, Syrah 35%. Sweetly fruited with nice peppery detail, some dried herbs, and a core of lush, sweet raspberry and blackberry fruit, finishing slightly salty. Some ashiness on the finish. 92/100

Vindemio Ventoux Rouge Terra 2022
Grenache noir 50%, Cinsault 40%, Mourvèdre 10%. Wonderfully aromatic peppery nose with sweet red cherries and some floral notes. The palate is beautifully textured with sweet red cherry and plum fruit with pepper and herb detail, showing depth and also freshness. 94/100

Domaine de Font Sane Ventoux Rouge Vieilles Vignes 2022
Grenache noir 70%, Syrah 30%. Lovely pure fruit here with great definition. Nicely structured with silky, textural, floral red cherry fruit with some herbs in the mix. So delicious with great concentration. 95/100

Domaine Caroline Bonnefoy Ventoux Rouge 2022
Grenache noir 42%, Syrah 35%, Carignan 23%. Bright, pure and fabulously well defined with sweet red cherry and berry fruit, with good concentration and focus on the palate. This is vivid and energetic, with good depth. 93/100

Domaine Brusset Ventoux Rouge Les Boudalles 2022
Grenache noir 60%, Syrah 20%, Carignan 15%, Clairette 5%. Fresh and bright with nice floral cherry fruit on the nose and a supple, well balanced palate showing sweet red cherries with some elegance and fine spiciness. Fine, pure, delicate and enticing, and quite elegant. 94/100

Domaine Aymard Ventoux Rouge Les Grappes 2022
Cinsault 50%, Grenache noir 50%. So floral and expressive on the nose. This is a lighter-coloured wine with aromatic raspberry and strawberry fruit. In the mouth it’s beautifully textured with a sweetly spiced core of lush cherry and berry fruit. Peppery finish. Quite beautiful. 95/100

Domaine de la Bastidonne Ventoux Rouge Cuvée Martial 2022
Carignan 85%, Marselan 15%. Powerful and rich with bold sweet blackberry and black cherry fruit with some tarry, spicy, ashy complexity, showing lushness but also notes of clove and vanilla. Very bold and impactful. 92/100

Cellier des Princes Ventoux Rouge Réserve 2022
Grenache noir 70%, Syrah 30%. Supple and bright with a core of sweet strawberry and raspberry fruit, with lushness but also a bit of grip on the finish. Nice weight here with textured fruit. 90/100

Domaine des Peyre Ventoux Rouge La Gazette 2022
Syrah 40%, Carignan 30%, Grenache noir 30%. Concentrated and bright with sweet berries and cherries showing some stony detail. Lots of volume here with rich, sweet fruit.Some saltiness on the finish. 91/100

La Courtoise-Clauvallis 1889 Ventoux Rouge 2022
Grenache noir 55%, Syrah 45%. Bold and quite tannic with a good concentration of rich berry fruits. Has notes of olive and pepper with firm tannins on the finish. Impactful. 92/100

Bastide de St Dominique Reserve Ventoux Rouge 2022
Grenache noir 90%, Syrah 10%. Peppery nose is sightly reductive with sweet cherry and plum fruit. The palate is sweetly fruited but  with firm tannins and a bit of grip. There’s an elegant core to this wine, and given a year or two in bottle I think it will be brilliantly elegant and expressive. 94/100

Domaine de la Ferme St Martin Ventoux Rouge La Gerine 2022
Cinsault 40%, Grenache 30%, Counoise 20%, Carignan 10%. Lighter in colour. Beautiful freshness and elegance here with some peppery detail and a core of sweet red cherries and wild strawberries, backed by nice acidity. Silky and elegant with real finesse. Has brightness and structure on the finish. 95/100

Domaine le Coustalas Ventoux Rouge Prémices 2022
Syrah 60%, Grenache noir 40%. Bright, fresh and focused with nice tannins supporting fresh raspberry and cherry fruit. Nice definition here, with bright, pure fruit and a crunchy finish. 93/100

Jullien Thomas Ventoux Rouge Sur Le Caillou 2022
Grenache noir 80%, Syrah 10%, Cinsault 10%. This is a lighter-coloured red with a really natural personality. Sweetly fruited and spicy with herbs, red cherries and strawberries. The palate shows a lovely core of sweet fruit with a bit of grip and some nice textural elements. Lively and beautifully weighted. 94/100

Chateau Saint Pons Ventoux Rouge Les Justes 2022
Cinsault 80%, Syrah 20%. Fresh and sweetly fruited with nice weight and texture. Strawberries and raspberries with some lushness, offering ripe, textured sweet fruits that are very appealing. 92/100

Domaine Hélène Bleuzen Ventoux Rouge le Devens 2022
Syrah 95%, Grenache noir 5%. Ripe and rich with bold sweet berry fruits and then notes of clove, cinnamon and cedar from the oak, adding a sweet and savoury character to the fruity palate. Bold and ripe, with immediate pleasure for those who like this bold style. 92/100

Societe des Vins de Malijay Ventoux Rouge Purple de Malijay 2022
Grenache noir 60%, Syrah 40%. Appealing with a core of sweet strawberry and cherry fruit, with some herbal hints and  a sweet spiciness on the finish. Forward and alluring but still has balance. A ripe style. 91/100

Cave de Bonnieux Ventoux Rouge Terres Rouges 2022
Grenache noir 60%, Syrah 40%. Bold, ripe and rich with dense, sweet blackberry and black cherry fruit. Has a core of bold, ripe fruit but it stays fresh: there’s some nice acidity here and it finishes spicy and intriguing. 92/100

Purviti Ventoux Rouge La Montee 2023
Syrah 85%, GRENACHE 10%, Carignan 5%. Primary, vivid and intense with sweet cherry and berry fruits on the nose. The palate is vivid and fruity with nice crunch to the primary cherry fruit. Lovely freshness and purity here: so bright and expressive. 94/100