This is sort of a belated introduction for this domaine: Château de Montfaucon has actually been producing wines and exporting to the U.S. market since the 1995 vintage, but distribution here has been limited at best. The property was just picked up by a large N.Y.-based wholesaler, however, so its profile should be a bit more prominent going forward.
I caught up with owner and winemaker Rodolphe des Pins on Day 7 of my recent Rhône trip, while tasting at Château de St.-Cosme with Louis Barruol—the two are good friends.
Des Pins, who has a rust-colored mustache and lamb chop sideburns, picked up a touch of Aussie twang to his English while working for Henschke during one harvest. He returned to the family estate and began bottling the production himself. Previously his father had been selling the grapes to the local cooperative.
The 100-acre estate includes 45 hectares of vines, mostly in the Côtes du Rhône AOC just north of and across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Though he has a few parcels in the neighboring Lirac appellation, he prefers to bottle all of his wines under the Côtes du Rhône or Vin de Pays du Gard designation.
“Lirac is well-known enough, and while there are some good wines there, I feel the appellation lacks some finesse,” said des Pins regarding declassifying his Lirac vines.
Des Pins works organically and since taking over the estate has increased the vineyards from 18 hectares to the their current total. Production now stands at 40,000 bottles annually with 10 percent earmarked for the U.S. marketplace.
The Côtes du Rhône 2007 is a blend of 50 percent Grenache along with Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan. The varieties are co-fermented in cement vat and then aged in cement for 18 months before bottling. The result is a racy, stylish wine with a lovely iron streak and lots of pastis, violet and blackberry notes. The Côtes du Rhône Baron Louis 2007 is a blend of 40 percent Grenache along with Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Counoise, also co-fermented in cement vats, but then aged partially in used oak barrels. The wine is lively and tangy, with mixed red and dark berry fruit, violet and lavender notes supported by a long, graphite-tinged finish.
A new cuvée will be introduced in the 2007 vintage, the Vin de Pays du Gard Vin de Mr. Le Baron de Montfaucon 2007. The wine approximates a blend of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, using 10 red varieties and five white grapes all co-fermented together in vat, before aging for 12 months in new oak.
“I love the taste of wood, but it has to be in balance,” said des Pins.
The wine exudes a violet aroma and drinks like a young Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with lots of fig, pastis and boysenberry notes layered with iron and black tea notes. The texture is very creamy and the finish very long.