We recently had a very special wine tasting with Guy Sarton du Jonchay, the winemaster of Vidal Fleury, where we tasted through the Vidal Fleury portfolio with Mr. du Jonchay. During the tasting, we found out that Vidal Fleury is the oldest winery in the Rhone Valley having been established and in operation since 1781. Imagine my excitement when I found out that Thomas Jefferson visited the winery in 1787 in his wine tour of France and Italy and was the first person to export Vidal Fleury to the United States. Not to be too geeky, but I was an American history major and have always loved Thomas Jefferson who was a true renaissance man and wine lover!
During our tasting, we tried the 2009 Cotes-du-Rhone White (75% Viognier, 15% Grenache Blanc and 10% other grapes), 2007 Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge (65% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mouvedre), 2007 St. Joseph (100% Syrah), 2005 Cote-Rotie Burne et Blonde (95% Syrah and 5% Viognier) and 2008 Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise (100% Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains). I was particularly fond of the Cotes-du-Rhone White, which is a spectacular steal at a suggested retail price of $13.99 for a wine that is 75% Viogner, a heady, perfumed wine with beautiful floral and mineral notes (only small amounts of Viognier are cultivated as it’s not an easy grape to grow, which generally results in pricey wines). I also really enjoyed the Cote Rotie where the small dose of Viognier provided those same perfumed notes to the Cote Rotie as the Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc and highlighted the violet notes in the Syrah and the Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, which had nice stone fruit and grapey notes with restrained sweetness.
As part of the tasting, I was able to speak with Mr. du Jonchay, who was incredibly charming and knowledgeable. For the magical hour that I spent tasting the wines of Vidal Fleury, I felt like I had been transported to the Rhone. Afterwards, I wanted nothing more than to hop on a plane and fly to the Rhone to experience it in person. Here is our interview.
DOTW: Could you please tell us about Vidal Fleury.
du Jonchay: Vidal Fleury is the oldest winery in the Rhone. We started in 1781 and still have our vineyards in the Cote Rotie. Thomas Jefferson visited in 1797. In the 1920′s Guigal worked for Vidal before he started his own winery and in 1984 purchased Vidal Fleury. Today, Vidal Fleury is independently run and makes it own style of wines that are different from Guigal.
DOTW: Where do you sell your wine?
du Jonchay: We export 70% of our production to United States, Australia, Brazil and the rest of Europe. The rest is consumed in France.
DOTW: Do you make the wines?
du Jonchay: Yes. I make all the wines. Before Vidal Fleury, I made wine in France, as well as Argentina and Chile.
DOTW: What is the key to your Cote-du-Rhone Blanc (we found this to be a stand-out)?
du Jonchay: Leaving the wine on the lees, it helps gives the wine flavor and tames the wood.
DOTW: What is your key to the Muscat Beaumes de Venise (another stand-out)?
du Jonchay: Yeasts like humans stop working when drunk so we keep the alcohol levels in check. You get a Muscat Beaumes de Venise that isn’t overly sweet.