Part of the activities that we do at 3D are events. We do many throughout the year, ranging from Champagne blending workshops to picnicking amongst the vines in Burgundy and Sancerre. The first event of the year is our Truffle-hunting event which occurs over the St. Valentine’s weekend at our vineyard Domaine des Grands Devers in Valréas in the Rhône Valley. More of that another time!
Whilst in the Rhône Valley, I have the opportunity to make our blend with winemaker Paul-Henri Bouchard and his brother Louis-Pascal. This is for our Côtes du Rhône-Villages which we release in May of this year.
The blend varies from year to year, depending on vintage conditions. However, it is more often than not an unoaked blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan. The Bouchard’s have amazing terroir, with parcels of old bush vines high up in the hills above Valréas, nestling in between tall pine and oak trees on slopes facing the sun. Some of these parcels are littered with large oval shaped stones, rather like those seen in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
We first taste samples of each grape variety from the different parcels and take a note for each of these before we then start to do the blend or assemblage. Invariably, we look to produce a supple, juicy style that also has depth and the ability to age. In tricky years like 2013 the vintage favoured Grenache and less so Syrah – the two main constituents of the blend. So the blend was roughly ¾ Grenache with ¼ Syrah from the different parcels.
The assemblage process is great fun, but requires plenty of patience, concentration, a good memory and a bit of imagination too! Sometimes you are trying to envisage what a wine will be like in a few years’ time and not just the here and now. The blending session usually takes us half a day. We always do it in the morning when our palates are at their peak!
The Bouchard brothers are from the eponymous family of Burgundy fame. They are as likeable and as affable as one could wish for. Partners can stay at their chambre d’hôte and enjoy a delicious evening meal cooked by the talented Louis-Pascal. Open the shutters of your bedroom wide in the morning and you are treated to a spectacular view of hills clad with vines, olive trees, oak and tall pines. The fresh Provençal air is wonderful, as are the waft of Louis-Pascal’s cooking from somewhere below.
A visit to this lovely part of the world is certainly highly recommended.