Meeting Scott Stelzle and Toby Meeder of Venteux Vineyards was definitely a highlight of the Rhone Rangers tasting. I think it was just because after getting bread crumbs all over their table, they still had huge smiles on their gregarious faces. At the tasting, I was told that Scott and Toby were one and the same as far as the business is concerned; each taking on duties of winemaking, cellar rat, sales, but the website depicts Scott as the powerhouse behind the production.
Venteux means windy in French and that name is derived from the blustery location of the winery and vineyards. The establishment is ten years old and produces twelve varietals, but is keeping the production under 2,000 cases. Most of the wines are 100% varietals, with an occasional blend thrown in for good measure. And if visiting the Paso Robles area, apparently they have a lovely little bed-and-breakfast available for visitors!
2007 Grenache – One of the first “swallow-worthy” wines I tasted at the event. A huge Wow Factor with a supple, round mouth feel. The elegant nose provided the classic chocolate and cherries, but well-balanced and integrated. Hints of spice brought out the finish. At $28 a bottle, this is on the border of not quite the $10/$15 bargain, but not the $40 splurge. Worth the price!
2007 Farmouse Cuvée – A Château-du-Pape blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre, a heady aroma of truffles greets the nose but the mouth is filled with dried fruit, dark cherries and dried plums. This is one of those rare wines that exudes the passion of the winemaker. $28
2007 – Tache le Verre Syrah – The guys told me that “tache le verre” literally means “stains the glass” and while this is a huge, bulbous wine, all dark and inky in its heartiness, it is still smooth and very accessible. Having spent 20 months in new French Oak, this is a wine I would like to taste in ten or fifteen years. $35.