Patrick’s Chateauneuf du Pape Problem. And the Cure!

This wine’s importer describes it as “….more like baby Chateauneuf du Pape than Cotes du Rhone Villages.” We’ve all heard it before. “Baby this,” “mini that” to describe overachieving wines that transcend the perceived quality of their appellations. Heck, it’s a line I use all the time to describe such wines. But I’m growing weary of it, not just because I sound like a broken record, but I more and more feel that the “baby this,” “mini that” phenomenon might denigrate the wines in question rather than raise their status as they end up standing in the shadow of their “big brothers”.

I really don’t want to describe this wine as “baby Chateauneuf,” and while it is made by the brothers Gonnet of esteemed Font de Michelle in Chateauneuf du Pape, the wine hails from just south of Tavel on the other side of the Rhone. Phew. Not all that close to Chateauneuf. However, there is so much in this wine that reminds me of Chateauneuf that I’m left scratching my head as to how to characterize it, with all the stoniness, garrigue, mineral character and warm, Grenache and Syrah infused fruit.

I should admit that I have a complicated relationship with Chateauneuf du Pape. (Don’t worry, I found a good wine therapist, and things are getting better). Chateauneuf played a significant role in my falling in love with wine in the first place (when an overly generous friend cracked a bottle of ’85 Pegau), but I can never figure out when to drink it and always manage to drink it in its tough, tannic youth, or after the freshness of its fruit has faded. And then there’s the fact that you have to shell out fifty bucks these days to get the rush. Or not.

However, I have found a cure with this non-Chateauneuf. (Although, of course, I don’t want to discourage you from from buying Chateauneuf-du-Pape!) But, when you need your fix of black pepper, kirsch, pungent herbs and intense black licorice without big tannins and need of a fifty dollar bill, don’t hesitate to turn to La Font du Vent Cotes du Rhone Notre Passion. At $14.02 a bottle by the case, I’ll be stocking up over the summer as its spicy, warm, but not heavyweight personality lends itself perfectly to any grilled foods enjoyed outdoors with friends. Having your own “I want Chateauneuf du Pape, but …” problem? Here’s your relief. – Patrick Mitten

2005 Domaine Font de Michelle Cotes du Rhone La Font du Vent Notre Passion
Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
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$14.02 per bottle with case discount.
Buy 12 Bottles of this wine for $14.02 per bottle with the case discount.
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This price includes our 15% Case Discount for the full case. If you are ordering a mixed case, all discounts will be applied after you place your order, but before we process your credit card.

Tasting Notes
An array of red fruits leaps from the glass, intensely perfumed with wild herbs, pepper, fennel, and a hint of balsa wood. Warm and caressing in the mouth, with sappy, yet bright fruit character, it is persistent, and the long finish echoes the pungent herbal character on a vigorous texture.

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Filed under 2005, Cotes du Rhone, French Wine, General, Patrick Mitten

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