Region: Vacqueyras, Rhône Valley, FRA
Grapes: 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 5% Cinsault, 5% Carignan
Taste: Buried beneath the notes of smoke, bacon, black pepper, and crushed rosemary are notes of rich black and red fruit. Roasted strawberry and prune and fresh figs. Orange peel and potpourri. This wine’s got something many wines don’t have–complexity. This wine’s a savory beast that longs for food. We picked this 2013 vintage because it’s in the sweet spot and aged to perfection.
Pairing: Pair it with anything cooked over live fire! Rich, marbled cuts of steak would be great, or any kind of roasted chicken or pork.
Or, If you’re looking to add a little French flair to your next grilled cheeseburger, this is the right bottle. But don’t stop with just the wine--melted gruyére, pickled onion and lots of mustard on a rare/medium-rare herb infused patty will love the accompaniment of a rich sun-drenched red with just the right amount of herb, spice and smoke itself.
If you’re feeling adventurous and need a reliable palate cleanser, open a bottle of this next time you find Andouillette on your plate. But don’t forget the mustard! Bois d’Arlene can only do so much to soften the earthy flavors of this celebrated sausage.
If what you bring to the table is a classic charcuterie board, make sure a bottle of Bois d’Arlene Origine also makes the shopping list with Coppa, Prosciutto or Spec, Serrano ham, something pickled, a country pâté, stone ground mustard, duck liver terrine and a sour cherry compote. Also, bread.
Vacqueyras in twenty key-facts:
1. Legal AOC rules mean that Vacqueyras must be made up from at least 50% Grenache as the ‘backbone’ of the wine.
2. The rest must be made up of at least 20% Syrah and Mourvèdre. In addition to these winemakers can choose to use other local varieties in any chosen percentage to make up the total blend.
3. As in most wine regions, Vacqueyras has vintage variations – e.g. it may be a great year for growing Syrah and not for Mourvèdre… In which case a winemaker will then increase the percentage of Syrah and balance the blend with one of the plethora of other permitted grape varieties.
4. The 18 red and white grape varieties permitted in the Vacqueyras appellation are: Cinsault, Grenache Gris and Noir, Piquepoul noir, Brun Argenté, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Muscardin, Terret Noir, Counoise, Carignan, Vaccarese, Clairette (Blanche and Rosé), Bourbelenc, Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier.
5. The Vacqueyras region runs along the river Ouvèze – this cools the air at night and, consequently, the vines and grapes as well.
This gives elegance and finesse and preventst those over-jammy ‘over ripe’ characteristics. 6. Beautiful rolling hills are common in this region, grapes are grown at 100–400m above sea level. The regions’s limestone ridges are known as the ‘Dentelles de Montmirail’
7. Many people don’t know the region also makes a white Vacqueyras – which we are considering stocking. A rare, medium bodied, jazzy wine to pop out at parties and surprise your guests. How rare? Quite rare indeed – only 4% of wine produced here is white so you won’t often see it on the shelves in a wine shop.
8. Before the wine authorities in France really realised the potential and character of this winemaking pocket, grapes grown in Vacqueyras went into the much broader AOC’s (grapes from different towns and regions, all in one bottle), namely Côtes du Rhône (your ‘everyday table wine’).
9. Despite the rich flavour profile, Vacqueyras is relatively more restrained in alcohol (usually at 14-14.5%) than Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape (usually at 15%-16%)
10. 2020 was the 30th anniversary of the Vacqueyras AOC.
But while the appellation was first formed in 1990, Vacqueyras is by no means a new region: taxes levied on the grape and wine harvests are mentioned in documents from 1448, the time of Joan of Arc and the 100 years’ war, when England ruled over France.
11. Vacqueyras’ typical soils are sandy, stony with some clay-limestone – providing a rich character to the wine and good drainage. Other soils include pebbles, fine sands, clay, marl, saffron, sandstone, gravel and fragments of white limestone.
12. Stones in the vineyards accumulate heat during the day, much like a battery, and release it at night. This, much like in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is very important in cold nights.
13. The Provençale name “Vacqueyras” comes from the Latin “Valléa Quadreria” which means “valley of stones”.
14. Vacqueyras pairs perfectly with herb-rich dishes, red meat, hearty stews, Daube of Beef. It also makes a cracking bbq wine when it’s had a touch of age.
15. Vacqueyras wines are always great to drink upon release but can benefit from ageing up to 15 years.
16. Vacqueyras is not just a red wine region: even though red wines account for 95% of production, 4% are white and 1% rosé (in a fuller-bodied Provençale style).
17. Vacqueyras is not a cottage industry but is still quite av low-key production area with 230 family producers.
18. 30% of the surface area of the Vacqueyras appellation is certified organic.
19. Vacqueyras has a maximum allowed yield of 36 hectolitres per hectare (one of the lowest yields in France). Keeping these low yields maintains concentration and quality, strengthens the vines and reduces the chance of diluted, thin wine-style.
20. If you are a fan of Spanish wines, you have certainly drunk some of the main grape varieties that go into the makeup of Vacqueyras: Grenache is known as Garnacha in Spain and is one of the country’s most widely planted grapes.
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