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, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.