Feraud-Brunel Rasteau 2006
– Robert M. Parker
Brunel is a promising negociant enterprise that began in 1998 with the partnership between Laurence Féraud and André Brunel of Chateauneuf-du- Pape. Brunel is best known for Les Cailloux and Féraud is known for Pegau. Given their significant contacts in the southern Rhône Valley, their goal is to purchase wine from old, established, primarily Grenache vineyards. What sets this venture apart from other negociants is that it is run with the savoir-faire of truly exceptional winemakers working in perfect partnership.
Laurence Féraud & André Brunel have selected the terroirs in the Côtes-du-Rhône which they find most interesting and found talented winemakers who work year round with their oenologist, Philippe Cambie. Before the harvest, they work in the same manner as on their estates in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, setting the yields and the farming practices, and closely following the ripening and sanitary state of the grapes. The fermentation of each wine is adapted to the qualities of the terroir, and when they feel the moment is right, they bring the wines to their cellars in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. After a period of ageing that marries the expression of terroir with a hard core of ripe fruit, the wines are bottled without fining or filtration. The result is a range of Côtes-du- Rhône wines of stunning quality, truly representative of their appellation and vintage.
Typically thought of as a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the term Côtes du Rhone actually doesn’t merely apply to the flatter outskirts of the major southern Rhône appellations, it also includes the fringes of well-respected northern Rhône appellations. White can be produced under the appellation name, but very little is actually made.
The region offers some of the best values in France and even some first-rate and age-worthy reds. Red varieties include most of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape varieties like Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Counoise, as well as Carignan. White grapes grown include Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Viognier, among others.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.