Chene Bleu Abelard 2007
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Another up-and-coming estate (first vintage was 2006), Chene Bleu is located high up in the Dentelles de Montmirail, northeast of Gigondas, and covers roughly 70 acres of high altitude vineyards that are planted mostly to Syrah and Grenache, with the average age of the vines over 50 years in age. Restored by the Rolet family, with Nicole Rolet making the wines, this domaine has produced some incredible 2007s (as well as a smoking good 2010 white) that will compete with the finest efforts coming out of the Rhone Valley today. These certainly deliver on the quality front and show what’s possible from these higher elevation sites! They’re well worth checking out.
A long and narrow valley producing flavorful red, white, and rosé wines, the Rhône is bisected by the river of the same name and split into two distinct sub-regions—north and south. While a handful of grape varieties span the entire length of the valley, there are significant differences between the two zones in climate and geography as well as the style and quantity of wines produced. The Northern Rhône, with its continental climate and steep hillside vineyards, is responsible for a mere 5% or less of the greater region’s total output. The Southern Rhône has a much more Mediterranean climate, the aggressive, chilly Mistral wind and plentiful fragrant wild herbs known collectively as ‘garrigue.’
In the Northern Rhône, the only permitted red variety is Syrah, which in the appellations of St.-Joseph, Hermitage, Cornas and Côte-Rôtie, it produces velvety black-fruit driven, savory, peppery red wines often with telltale notes of olive, game and smoke. Full-bodied, perfumed whites are made from Viognier in Condrieu and Château-Grillet, while elsewhere only Marsanne and Roussanne are used, with the former providing body and texture and the latter lending nervy acidity. The wines of the Southern Rhône are typically blends, with the reds often based on Grenache and balanced by Syrah, Mourvèdre, and an assortment of other varieties. All three northern white varieties are used here, as well as Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourbelenc and more. The best known sub-regions of the Southern Rhône are the reliable, wallet-friendly Côtes du Rhône and the esteemed Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Others include Gigondas, Vacqueyras and the rosé-only appellation Tavel.