Introducing the wines of Vidal-Fleury – The oldest House in the Côtes du Rhône

Peter Morrell tastes two wines from this historic and prestigious producer

Vidal Fleury

Founded in 1781, Vidal-Fleury quickly gained international recognition. For example, the company’s first contact with the United States – currently its leading export market – was established with Thomas Jefferson the very same year. As a result, over the past 240 years, Vidal-Fleury counts as one of the most emblematic Houses in the region.

Vidal-Fleury boasts expertise in every domain, including vine-growing, winemaking, maturing, packaging and bottle ageing. As a result, it always supplies products of the highest quality world-wide.

Vidal-Fleury’s philosophy can be summarized as follows: working with top quality grapes from the terroirs of the Rhone Valley and respecting the required time to mature and age the wines, thereby achieving full maturity.

Situated in the Cote-Rotie, the northern tip of the Côtes du Rhône, the producer uses a vast array of Rhone Valley grape varieties. In the North: Syrah, the only red variety is sometimes blended with white varieties such as Viognier in CoteRotie; Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne are used to make white wine.

In the South: there is a broader range of varieties. Vidal-Fleury makes its southern red wines with a combination of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. When it comes to the whites, Viognier remains in the limelight, joined by Grenache blanc, Clairette, and Roussanne.

I have recently tasted two Vidal-Fleury wines, the Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2017 and the Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2020.

I tried the Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2017 first, a silver medallist in the International Wine Challange London with a score of 90/100. It is made from four grapes varieties, Grenache (65%), Syrah (20%), Mourvèdre (10%) and Carignan (5%) with each grape adding to the character of the wine. Before fermentation the grapes go through a long period of maceration to impart tannins and colour to the juice. After the maceration a malolactic fermentation gives the wine a more velvety texture. The wine is matured on the lees (the sediment), 30% of it in large oak barrels.

The wine pours a dark ruby red and the bouquet starts to reveal its true depth. There is an abundance of dark cherry, bramble and spice aromas. As the wine moves to the palate the fruit and spice persist and are joined by a medley of flavours including chocolate, leather and smoke. The well balanced tannins give the mouthfeel an almost buttery sensation and the finish is very strong and persistent.

This is a distinguished wine that would pair beautifully with traditional French food like cote de boeuf, cassoulet and strong cheeses.

The Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2017 is available from good wine merchants including Majestic.

The second wine, the Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2020 is a blend of Viognier (87%), Clairette (5%), Roussanne (5%) and Grenache white (3%) grapes. The predominance of Viognier makes this wine distinctly aromatic. It is aged for six months on the lees and the process of ‘bâtonnage’ is used. This sees the lees stirred back into the wine and is done to extract as much flavour as possible.

In the glass the wine is a bright, pale yellow colour and the nose announces the floral and fruity character. The aromas are a heady mix of apricot, peach and nuts with a flowery background. In the mouth the white peach flavour is strong and there are added hints of grapefruit and honey. There is a good minerality accompanied by a lively acidity and the finish is bright and fresh.

This wine is the perfect companion for seafood, charcuterie and light chicken dishes.

Available from good wine merchants, Majestic are currently stocking the 2019 version of this wine.

I can thoroughly recommend this duo, the pedigree of Vidal-Fleury with its heritage and tradition are very evident when drinking the wines.

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