2004/1998 Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone


At some point in the past couple of years i convinced myself that i didn’t like grenache, or grenache based wines (although i think the word “grenache” is a beautifully unpretentious name for a grape). How this happened is beyond me, because, as it turns out i rather like grenache when done right (unlike sauvignon blanc which i really don’t care for much at all). Now far from being an unfortunate situation wherein i never try any grenache because of my bias, it is quite rewarding. Everytime i try good grenache i’m amazed i like it at all (“i usually don’t care for grenache, but this is good!”), and as everyone knows, it is better to be a surprised pessimist rather than a blasé optimist (something similiar happened in college when i convinced myself that i didn’t like Henry James for four years. Imagine reading the Golden Bowl with the mindset you’re going to hate it. Mindblowing.)

So if any amateur psychologists want to chime in on why i would do this to myself, please feel free, otherwise let’s get to the wine.

As you probably know, Chateau de Fonsalette is the second label for the much revered Chateau Rayas (they also make a third wine, Domaine des Tours. How they produce such quality with all their wines is a testament to, well i guess the winemaking). Fonsalette, which is half grenache with cinsault and syrah blended into it, is a strikingly feminine wine, especially for those who have it in mind that Rhone is synonymous with bruising high alcohol messes. To use an overused word the wine is “silky” (especially the ’98 which had very light dusty tannins). The grenache spice was there, as was the syrah savory gameyness, but there was no overwhelming flavor component in either wine. Both wines had a thread of saline minerality running right through the center to put everything in order on both the fruit and savory sides.

So i guess i will continue distrusting grenache for just such wines. Seems more pleasurable that way.

Notes: I like doing notes. I will be doing more in the future.

I met Hardy Wallace of Dirty South Wine Fame. He was rocking a sweet ‘stache and is a genuinely nice guy.

Terroir, my employer, will close for a month beginning monday October 5th to repair flood damage. I am going to drive to Seattle and maybe fly to New York in the meantime. Any suggestions, or if anyone wants to meet up, hit me up.

The Cupcake Belt was born on Saturday.

What to eat: Lamb with blue cheese and olives and tomatoes.

What to listen to: The XX

~ by Cory Cartwright on October 5, 2009.

11 Responses to “2004/1998 Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone”

  1. cory, this is scott reiner from wd. if you make it to the city drop me a line, we can grab some glasses at the 10 bells.

  2. As you see, you shouldn’t be hatin’ on the grenache. (Though what makes the word unpretentious? It’s so close to “ganache” as to be slightly twee.) I have to agree with you on, as VLM would say, sauvignon the white. (Aside from CRB; c’mon now. You’d have to have cotton balls soaked in peroxide up your nose not to like that.)

    Henry James is really an apt comparison for unreasonable aversions that lead to immense joy. I went through that inexplicable phase, myself and can concur. I’ve heard that when we reach 40, there will be some comparable effect with Balzac. Jury’s still out, for now.

    As for grapes: the more the merrier. Not that I would ever uproot myself from anti-riesling fervor, or cozy up to chenin blanc, mind.

    Happy travels. You should hit France.

  3. i don’t understand the hatred towards sb. haut brion blanc, laville haut brion, vatan, the cotat brothers, dagueneau etc… there is a lot of really good sb out there!

  4. Nah, Scott, get over it, man!

    It’s all BS.

    Pumped-up SB (i.e. Vatan, the Cotats, Dagueneau) is like pumped-up Picpoul de Pinet. Aucun intérêt!

  5. poop

  6. Corey,
    Would love to hang and talk about wine while you are in NYC- let me know if you get here . . or come buy our humble store!

  7. Let me know when you’ll be in NY; perhaps I can make it up. And of course there’s an open invitation in Philly.

    Drank a bottle of ’98 Château du Trignon Gigondas a few nights ago that was in a great spot. Very aromatic, balanced, bright and, yes, feminine.

  8. I will let everyone know when I am coming to New York for sure.

    Sharon and Scott: the CRB is OK, DeMoor St. Bris better, but really, for my money I’ll buy chenin instead.

  9. Not with you on the De Moor St. Bris. Try Goisot, though.

  10. Are we talking about 2008 CRB? To me this vintage represents a turning point, or maybe a throttling up. It’s dry Sauvignon Auslese, so ripe that the signature “Sauvignon” flavors are pretty deeply buried within honey and apples.

    The only St. Bris I’ve tasted is 2007 Brocard. Interesting. Mineral. What do you think of that one?

    Did you ever try Riffault’s Sancerre “Skeveldra” – made me think of old Arbois Savagnin and Chardonnay except, well, it was Sauvignon.

    I love the Reynauds’ wines. Chateau des Tours almost works within my budget, so I drink it once in a while (last year at Slows even.) Can you get Domaine la Tourade, either CdR or Vacqueyras in your area?

  11. A bit much oak on the Goisot last time I tried it, but I’m due for a retaste.

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