2016 Chateau de Montfrin AOP Cotes du Rhone Village ‘A La Douceur d’Aller’ Rouge

$40

“A la douceur d’aller” translates to “the sweetness of life.”

This wine has notes of black cherry, blackberry liquor and black pepper with elegant oak influence. On the palate the tannins are smooth and the body is structured with a finish of dark chocolate, toffee and espresso beans. 

An incredibly versatile food wine! Try it with a burger, foie gras on baguette or rhubarb pie.

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Rhône Valley, France

For ease of describing the Rhône Valley, we will associate the region by two distinct areas: The Northern Rhône and the Southern Rhône. The Northern Rhône, follows the River Rhône essentially from Vienne in the north down to Valence in the south. Many of their vineyards are planted on slopes situated next to the river as the valley is quite narrow and steep. There is a cold strong wind in this area, called the mistral, which can quickly damage the vines, so the valley serves as protection. The black grape variety, Syrah, dominates in the Northern Rhône. In fact, in many of the smaller appellations and crus, it is the only black grape variety allowed and produced. These wines tend to be a deep color and boast bold black fruit flavors with black pepper and florals. There are a few areas that allow for production of the white grape varieties: Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. Particularly, Condrieu and Château-Grillet appellations have a reputation for high-quality Viognier. The noteworthy crus of Northern Rhône  for red wine include (but not limited to) Côte-Rôtie, Saint-Joseph, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Cornas. 

To the south and closer to the Mediterranean Sea lies the much larger region of the Southern Rhône. With greater vineyard areas, the Southern Rhône is focused on predominantly red wine, but showcasing a vast range of red, white, and rosé wines from high-quality to inexpensive. Here the climate is considerably more warmer than in the north and the vineyards are on flatter terrain. The mistral winds are still of concern, so many of the vines are trained low to the ground for protection. To absorb some of the heat, many of the best vineyard sites have very stony soils. Particularly, in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the stones (or galets) are large and completely cover the soil surface. Black grape varieties Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault do best in this warm, sunny climate. Hence why you often see the term “GSM” Blend (meaning Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) coined from this region, which many other regions have now adopted and use for their blends using these grape varietals. While white grape varieties are a minority to this region, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, and Bourboulenc are grown here. Notable cru areas are Tavel, Lirac, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and the infamous, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Generic appellations of Côte du Rhône and Côte du Rhône Villages account for more than half of the entire production with the Southern Rhône, but don’t let the generic term fool you; These appellations, although not cru status, are also putting out some spectacular quality wines! 

The Château de Montfrin has been an important site for centuries, and always played host to travelers and statesmen including Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint-Louis, Louis XIII, and Molière. Today the château is surrounded by 200 hectares of vineyards and olive orchards which are all farmed organically.  

In 1925 Jean René’s grandfather Robert Servan-Schreiber bought Chateau Montfrin. During WWII the Chateau was occupied by German Nazi’s and the family seperated. Jene René father was fighting Nazi’s in Northern Africa and his mother fled to Marseille where she helped Allie planes get in and out of France until she got caught by the Germans and thrown into one of the worst concentration camps in Germany. In 1944 the allies bombed the Chateau, rubble you can still see today at the property. After the war, Jene René was born and he lived most of his life back and forth between Montfrin and Paris. 

Jean Rene started his career in fashion and married fashion designer, Agnes B, whom he shares two daughters with. About 25 years ago, after a few years of owning an art gallery in Paris and producing some films, he moved from Paris to their family home in Montfrin when one of his daughters was diagnosed with horrible asthma. The doctor suggested moving out of the city to a place with fresh air and less congestion, so he moved them to Montfrin, the family’s country house. At the time the family had vineyards but they were selling their grapes to co-ops. Jean Rene, serial entrepreneur started his own label shortly after they moved in and has grown the project to what it is today – A successful and growing winery and olive oil producer in the Southern Rhone. 

10 years ago Jene Rene converted all of his vineyards to organic when he said his young friends, 45-50 years old were dying of cancer and other diseases. He produces wine he likes to drink and he doesn’t want to poison his family and friends with wine like that. He thinks everyone in the Southern Rhone should be farming organically. Due to the weather and soil, it is easy to do there.

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