Notes: This is my desperate attempt to do something for Wine Blogging Wednesday 19, despite the fact that I had a crazy busy weekend involving not only work, but an emergency room and a dislocated elbow (not mine, thankfully), and didn't make it to the wine store or my wine storage, so any good or interesting blends I might have around or at my disposal were, well, not at my disposal. I am also working late Wednesday so I had to pre-drink and write all this up. Oh, the trials!
Anyway, I had to root around in the wine I keep in the house here and find something that would work. I do have a thing for Rhône blends, so I had some stuff lying around, but sadly nothing was very interesting. Mostly Grenache/Syrah blends, and this bottle won out simply by being a Grenache/Syrah/Carignane blend, which gave it one-third more interestingness and blendedness. And blending wine is not easy... I have had to do it in a wine class and it is harder than you think to come up with something tasty and balanced. It is very easy to end up with a muddy, difficult wine, and that is exactly what I had in my glass when I got done.
I think it is a bottle I got through the K&L wine club or picked up there when I was doing a run for cheap bottles to drink. This wine is a Côtes du Ventoux Contrôlée, which means it comes from a specific area between the Rhône and Provence, an area that has climactic conditions similar to the Rhône. A main feature of the limestone-ridden landscape is Mont Ventoux, rumored locally to be the source of the Mistral (the bitterly cold wind that blows through the Rhône).
Delas Frères has been around since 1836, and despite being bought by first Deutz in 1978 and then Roderer in 1993, flew low and under the radar for years, making so-so wines that did not receive much acclaim. In 1997 Jacques Grange took over (he who revitalized Chapoutier and served under Jean Luc Colombo). He turned things around and started paying close attention to vineyard and cellar practices. No more heavy-handed fining or filtration, careful pruning, and judicious use of oak improved the wines' reputations and gave new life to Delas.
This is a bright purple-red in the glass, and looks pretty young. The nose is slightly hot, and has plum, blackberry, and tobacco, along with peppery spice. It might be fading slightly because there is not a lot of fruit on the palate. It's not old, per se, but not as bright as it might have been when younger. The palate is all about chalky leather and pepper. There is some ripe fruit quality there, more blackberry and cherry, but not a ton of it. When first opened the finish had a bitter rigidity that you know I will blame on the Carignane, but after a while of being open that seemed to dissipate somewhat (I can still taste it's cardboardy-ness, though, so it did not go away completely). The finish, heavy on the savory spice and pepper, is a little short, but really, it is pleasant enough for a ten-dollar bottle of wine. Not particularly memorable, but drinkable and good enough.
I imagine other wines in their portfolio are more interesting and might have made a more interesting entry for WBW19, but this one was worthy in that you can tell what aspects it gets from the Syrah (pepper, blackberry), Grenache (spicy herbs, cherry) and Carignane (rigidity, bitterness).