I was fortunate to visit Chateau Vignelaure back in the 80s – was it ’84 or ’85? Some of my memories are fuzzy. The memory that isn’t fuzzy however, is that Vignelaure was a trend setter, planting Cabernet Sauvignon in Provence, despite the apparent heresy. Today the rules for what can be planted on AOC territory have been enhanced to permit the ‘renegades’ to have their way and to good effect. Vignelaure is no longer one of a small band of innovators but rather part of a larger movement to transform Provence and the greater south of France.
The property is planted not only with Cabernet but also Syrah, Grenache, Merlot, Cinsault and Carignane. The wines are aged in a combination of French and American oak for one year, one-third in new oak and the balance in one and two year old barrels.
I am blessed with the opportunity to taste these media samples a good 25 years after the visit and am pleased to see where the wines are today.
Chateau Vignelaure, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence 2004 With 10 minutes the nose opens up to feature black fruit, cigar box and a bit of basil. In the mouth the fruit comes through in a smooth presentation, tannins softened yet apparent, with light body, succulence and long acidity – nice. Mis en bouteille a Rians 13.5% 20.80 euros at the winery in Provence.
Chateau Vignelaure, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence 2003 The ripeness of the fruit comes through in the nose, a sweet expression of fruit with a hint of vanilla as an accent. As with the ’04, the tannins have softened, yet more so and the acidity carries the flavor a long way – absolutely lovely. This is an elegant expression of a Cabernet-based blend, showing how Cab can travel on your palate with great length while not clobbering you along the way. Mis en bouteille a Rians 13.5% 22.30 euros at the winery.
I have to be honest and tell you that these wines are hard to come by in the states yet are more readily available in restaurants in France and of course, at the winery, when you are en vacance in Provence.