I heard the other day that one of the Rhone satellite aoc’s was throwing in the towel…Coteaux du Tricastin. Well quite the opposite seems to be happening in the Ventoux, the aoc is positively humming with new talent, fresh thinking and some stunning new wines. Yesterday to visit, case in point, Even Bakke at his 25ha estate just outside Le Barroux known as Clos de Trias. The name is down to the triassic limestone and clay that forms the foundation of his terroir. The winery is formed from the previous owner’s cherry and apricot processing shed, it is unashamedly rustic but the tasting room in the making hints at a family with a keen sense of style. Even cut his wine making teeth in the US completing 14 vintages in Sonoma and Napa before bringing his young family to the Vaucluse in 2007 to do things in his own style. And that style is all about letting the wines express the terroir with minimal interference…wood is limited to a small % of the blend, and old demi-muid at that , sulpher is around a quarter of permitted levels or less. Viticulture is organic and bio-dynamic practices are adopted..but no one is going to “ram it down your throat”. The top end wines are fermented with stems. Bulk of the production is a red cuvee - simply Clos de Trias -Grenache,Syrah and a little Cinsault/Carignan, very refreshing , brambly, good acidity, a little white pepper from the syrah, reminds me of the better Beaumes de Venise reds (like Bernardins/Ferme St.Martin); a newly bottled white, the 2008 vintage, made from Grenache blanc and Clairette - this a lovely medium+ gold colour with some oily gras and melon/apricot on the palate , a little oxidative overall in character, but with sufficient acidity to be balanced , delicious now but will surely improve along the lines of a CNP. Two new special cuvees complete the line up…the more concentrated and textured Vielles Vignes and the possibly one-off haut de gamme “Pied Porcher” , yields of just 20hl/ha from a single parcel of 50 yr old vines, named after the sangliers that patrol that coin…this €45 cuvee (!..in Ventoux) is Even’s homage to Rayas…lovely wine this, had a curious rose petal nose reminding us both of Barolo and tremendous power and complexity in the palate.
Clos de Trias is a winery to watch…what impresses so much is the balance struck by humility and common sense (Even:”Wine is a beverage..its first role is to be refreshing”) with a fearless mission to carve “greatness” out of a land that many would have written off as only capable of the “good”. Bravo!