“There are many wines that taste great, but do not drink well.” … Michael Broadbent, British wine writer

If science married art in these days of modern viticulture and wine making, it surely did the same with pricing.   Charge multiple hundreds of dollars for a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, become known as a “limited release collectible” and you may be OK marketing to a niche group.  Like a 1932D quarter worth 5,900 percent more than the same quarter without the “D”, perception becomes reality.  Of course, you’ll lose the mass market, but then who wants it when your wine is about cache anyway and your profit per bottle margin is soaring?   Conversely, if you so low-price your wine, you run the risk of alienating the middle group who may assume “any wine this inexpensive can’t be good.”

I recall meeting with a marketing executive at a well-known, long established Sonoma California winery/vineyard (since acquired).  The exec explained over lunch that the winery had paid a graphic designer over $50,000 to design a label.  That was seven years ago.  It didn’t include printing the labels, just its design.  And it wasn’t for labels across the brand. It was one label for one wine.

Wineries engage in all sort of analysis with benefit of trade groups, consumer studies, self-experience and I have no idea what else. Anyone spending $50,000 for a label design obviously takes marketing seriously, and I think they’re right to do so.  Blind tastings in WSET and Sommelier exams are the norm because it’s accepted that if we see a label, it will influence our opinion of the wine.  I submit that pricing does too.

Along comes Delas Freres Vins from Ventoux, a wine growing AOC in the southeast of the southern Rhone Valley between Languedoc and Provence, each of which may be better known. Wines are produced in 51 communes along the lower slopes and at the foot of the Ventoux mountains and protected from the damaging Mistral by that mountain range.  Wines made in Ventoux are very similar to those bearing the Cotes du Rhone appellation and employ much the same blend of grapes.   Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre (GSM) are common and, to a lesser extent: Cinsault and Carignan. Ventoux (par Delas Freres A Tournon-Sur-Rhone) is straight up 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah.  Despite being a Certified Wine Geek, and a lover of all wines Rhone, I wasn’t as familiar with this region as maybe I was when cramming for an exam, assuming I can remember.

Point is, this wine has an ARP of just $11.  Worse, it was on sale for $6.99 at a local merchant. And despite my saying for decades that wines of the Southern Rhone offer great value, the nagging question to myself was “Can this wine be any good?”

It was. I bought two bottles. Wrote about it on my Facebook page and followers commented that they went to that store to get some. And I will soon get more myself, having tasted it.   

Medium garnet to medium ruby in the glass, this dry red offers aromas of raspberries with baking spices that, put together, reminds me of “Fruits of the Forest” pie. With air in the glass, expect blueberry and cocoa to develop. Strawberry develops also, and then again with air, black cherry, lavender and sandalwood on the palate. A slight grip makes it all the more pleasant. Others refer to notes of “crushed stone and Bing cherries”, “garrigue and smoke”. But everyone agrees this wine is a screaming value. It garnered 90 points from  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and James Suckling.

It’s not Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  It doesn’t have the cache.  I’m tempted to say it’s somewhat country, but in fact, it’s not at all rustic. it’s actually quite polished and refined and I find myself fighting that preconception based on price again.  “Fresh and silky in feel, with pretty anise and tea hints inlaid into a core of gently steeped red currant and plum.” (Wine Spectator).   Delas Ventoux is not Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It is bright, a little tangy with some herbs gracing its notes of wild red fruit. And it is indeed “silky” as stated by Wine Spectator. 

It tastes great and drinks well.

…………….. Jim

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The 80/20 blend of Grenache / Syrah is unoaked. The Grenache undergoes traditional winemaking in stainless steel vats with daily pump overs. Syrah is not, or may be only partially destemmed. Juice undergoes malolactic fermentation and, when completed, the varietals are blended and aged 6-8 months in stainless.

Delas Ventoux:       
Imported By:                    Maisons Marquis & Domaines
ALC:                                14%

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