The Delas Ventoux Red 2017 is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah (this is a blend that is produced every year and there can be minor variations in the blend from vintage to vintage) sourced from vineyards in and around the villages of Mazon and Goult in the Ventoux region of the Southern Rhone Valley in southeast France. The producing winery is Delas Frères, they were founded in 1835, though they are currently owned by Maison Louis Roederer. This is an AOC wine which is the highest designation for French wine meaning this Red blend conformed to all the rules and regulations for the vineyards and the winery. The Delas Ventoux lists for $11 and I found it on sale for $6.99, it also received 90 points by a leading wine magazine.
Grenache and Syrah are the 2 main grapes of the Southern Rhone Valley (the Northern Rhone specializes in Syrah and wines are usually more expensive) which are blended along with a few other approved grapes, Mourvedre being the most widely used. The Delas is fermented and aged in stainless steel vats, no oak is used. The Grenache and Syrah are fermented separately and blended at the end of the process. In an interesting note, the Syrah is often not de-stemmed before crushing and for fermentation, those extra bits add to the overall flavor. The alcohol content is 14%.
The Tasting Notes
The color is a nice dark shade of purple. The nose is not shy, rich, bright fruit, blackberries, baking spice, raspberry, slightly smokey, with a scent of root beer, of all things. What I love about Rhone Valley blends is the interplay between the Grenache and the Syrah, the Grenache can be lean and intense, while the Syrah is plump, juicy and a little spicey, and here all that is in play. It tastes of blackberry, black pepper, a little Dr. Pepper, and licorice. The mid-palate adds dried strawberry, a slap of spice, cranberry, with the tannins providing a sharp edge to tie everything together. The finish is subtle but lasts.
- If you know Red blends mainly from the wines of California and Washington, the Rhone Valley is an excellent place to start to explore French Reds. While American blends in this price range and juicy flavor first and then structure, the Rhone valley blends put structure upfront while not skimping on fruit flavors. I think they are a very accessible entryway into French style wines, they are different, but not too different.
- Drink-it-now wines need not be expensive to be tasty, even French drink-it-now wines.