We visit Domaine Saladin located in Saint Marcel d’Ardeche. This is a new label for Binnys, just arriving in stores a few weeks ago. Another impressive operation managed by patriarch Louis Saladin’s daughters, Elizabeth and Marie-Laurence Saladin. These ladies produce beautiful, pure, understated wines from hand picked grapes on land that has been farmed organically pretty much since the dawn of time. Meaning, they farm the same way they always have, organic before organic ever got popular. The wines are bright and remarkably restrained. The 2011 Paul, a co fermented blend of grenache and clairette blanche, shows the lift of fresh red berries with hints of citrus and spice box. The Cheyveron is also nicely balanced. The Per El (“For Her”) blanc, created by Louis for his wife who prefers white wine, is a sublime blend of 5 varietals aged in stainless steel vats.
Next, Domaine de Beaucastel, the largest and most advanced (read: well financed) of any property we visit. A stunning winery with impeccable facilities and an impressive library cellar stocked with bottles dating back to the 1920s. As we’ve seen at other stops, the 2012s are excellent. The best wine of the visit is the 2012 Vielles Vignes Rousanne, a 6000 bottle, small production gem. For reds, the 2012 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape is a rock star – aromas and flavors of blueberry and raspberry marmalade accented with black olives and dried herbs, all before a long, opulent finish.
Away from the Rhone, we also visit Domaine Bastide Blanche, a top tier producer in the Mediterranean coastal town of Bandol. Producing a variety of cuvees (predominantly from mourvedre) they are rightfully famous for their excellent rose. The Cuvee Fontanieu, fashioned from 100% mouvedre is an amazing example of the fine wines produced at this estate. It is here, with the Bronzo family, that we enjoy another fantastic home-cooked meal, paired with their lovely wines (note the photos of Barb and Peter with the collection of bottles sampled that afternoon).
That’s it from the Rhone for right now. Thanks to Don for the insight! Do you have any questions for Don about French wine or his journey? Leave a comment below.