Picked as her 'Wine of the Week' by Jancis Robinson, 18 Nov 2010:
Here is a bargain way to enjoy the ripeness of Grenache in the southern Rhône, which resulted from the exceptionally warm, dry summer of 2009.This is made from grapes grown at cooler, higher altitudes than the Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards about which I have been writing this week, and at higher yields, so the grapes were juicier and the wine is far simpler, fruitier and designed for much earlier drinking - now, in fact. The grapes for this wine - typically 50 per cent Grenache, 20 per cent Syrah, 15 per cent Cinsault and 15 per cent Carignan - were grown on the flanks of Mont Ventoux, at up to 300m above sea level.
The wine is fermented in cement and aged in large, old oak barrels until bottling in July. La Vieille Ferme is the creation of the talented Perrin family, whose family estate, Château de Beaucastel, is the source of some of the finest red and white Châteauneuf-du-Pape. La Vieille Ferme is their négociant label, meaning they buy in the ingredients and make and market the wine in considerable quantity. When the vintage is right, these Vieille Ferme wines can represent exceptional value. This is a friendly, exuberant, fruity wine made to be enjoyed over the next 12 months, with casual meals (I could imagine it with sausages and mash). It's also screwcapped for maximum freshness.
Grapes are sourced mainly within the Parc Regional du Luberon, which is equidistant from Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Manosque. The average altitude of the vineyards is 300 metres above sea-level. Grenache blanc 30%, Bourboulenc 30%, Ugni blanc 30%, Roussanne 10% make up this delightful blend. The grapes are lightly crushed, then pressed in a pneumatic press, prior to clarification of the must and cool fermentation. This takes place in vats for 90% of the blend, with 10% fermented in new oak barrels with lees-stirring. The wine is bright pale yellow with hints of green. A nose of green fruit, corn and hazel-nuts is followed by a palate which is soft, balanced and deliciously aromatic. Serve at 8°C with hors-d'oeuvre or cold dishes of meat or fish, or as an aperitif. 16 points - Jancis Robinson. (Jancis Robinson Purple Pages, 16 Sep 2010).