Last week was meant to be an attempt to clear out some of the backlog of Australian wines in my queue, and was at least partially successful, with four interesting wines from two large and two very small producers. This week I will focus on the French wines that I’ve tasted recently but which haven’t made it onto the site. Today, it’s the Domaine La Ferme Saint-Martin Les Terres Jaunes 2010.
This is a wine of Beaume de Venise in the southern Rhône. It is a warm Mediterranean region, somewhat to the east of the valley through which the river flows, and protected from the mistral. The area has three main soil types across the different areas being cultivated. South of the town is a flat with alluvial gravel and silt over sand and cobalt. Just north of the town on south facing slopes vines are planted on an area of broken rock over sand, and further north on the far side of the peaks is decomposed gravel with concentrations of dolomite over sandstone and marl.
I first became familiar with the region a few years back by way of the style of wine for which the area is historically famous, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, and for which it was given AOC status in 1945 (though backdated to 1943). It’s a white Muscat based vin doux naturel, a sweet style of wine where the fermentation is stopped by the addition of spirit before all the sugar is converted to alcohol.
However, this wine is neither white, sweet, nor fortified. In addition to the Muscat VND, the regions is also known for production of dry, red table wine, and was granted AOC status in 2005. The red wines of Beaumes de Venise are blended from at least 50% Grenache and 25% Syrah and up to 20% being other authorized grapes such as Mourvèdre including at most 5% white grapes. White and rosé wines are also produced though only as Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC.
Domaine La Ferme Saint-Martin is a fairly small producer based in the north of the Beaumes de Venise appellation. They are certified as organic, and in addition to this wine, they produce red and rosé wines of the Côtes du Ventoux appellation and red and white Côtes du Rhône. In addition to Syrah and Grenache, they have plantings of Cinsault and Carignan they use in their Côtes du Ventoux and red Côtes du Rhône wines as well as Roussanne and Clairette which go into their white Côtes du Rhône.
This wine, which translates to Yellow Lands, is a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah. After fermentation, it is matured in vats and bottled with some sulphur but without filtration.
In the glass, it is clear and bright, with a dark purple colour and some legs. On the nose it’s clean and developing, with medium plus intensity and notes of blackberry, coffee, cherry, and plums. It’s richly fruity but with some secondary characters. On the palate it’s dry, with medium plus body, medium plus intensity, medium plus grippy tannins, medium plus alcohol, medium acidity and medium length. There are notes of chocolate, hazelnut, liquorice, blackberry and cherry.
This is a good wine. It has an interesting complexity of flavours, which work well together. It’s strong in most respects, only falling slightly out of balance with less acidity and length than I might have wanted. However, it does have the potential to get more interesting with cellaring.
Pin in the map is approximate.