Stage 11 of this year’s Tour de France broke new ground. For the first time, riders ascended the barren slopes of Mont Ventoux twice. But while the race was unfolding on the climb dubbed ‘The Beast of Provence’, life ticked on at its gentle pace in the surrounding villages.
Here, tucked away between the villages of Mormoiron, Blauvac and Ville-sur-Auzon, is where the Chaudière family weaves its magic at Château Pesquié. The estate’s position between the Alps and the Mediterranean means it enjoys a micro-climate with the altitude and low overnight temperatures that are ideal for making wines with great balance and finesse.
Mont Ventoux is home to an exceptional biodiversity, spanning plant species such as green and white oak, beech and mountain pine, as well as animals including deer, wild boar and mountain sheep, not to mention many species of birds and reptiles. Château Pesquié enjoys a cool micro-climate and mineral diversity that are ideal for producing great wines. The vineyard is set on fine gravel, clay-limestone hillsides.
The chateau has a rich history, having been owned by noblemen including the Counts of Mormoiron, the Marquis de Reilhanette, and the Lords of Maubec before the grandparents of the current winemakers took ownership around 50 years ago and created a vineyard.
Odette and René Bastide passed the chateau to their daughter Edith and son-in-law Paul in the 1980s and the younger generation earned certification for implementing methods which laid the foundations to move towards organic production techniques. That process continued after Edith and Paul stepped aside, leaving their sons Alexandre and Frédéric (pictured) at the helm.
The brothers strive for excellence with blended Château Pesquié wines using a dozen or so grape varieties, including some out of favour local types. The focus is on preserving elegance and minerality, and finding an optimal balance. Ageing is carried out in concrete vats. They have also introduced single grape wines in the Paradou range.
The result is a broad choice of excellent wines. Among the reds, we like the top-end Quintessence, which brings richness balanced by the fresh flavours that are typical of this region to give an overall flavour of black olives and black cherry with smooth tannins, making it a perfect accompaniment for food. A little lighter is Les Terrasses which is a blend of Grenache and Syrah, making it more fruity with a herby hint.
The range of whites includes Le Paradou Viognier, which is a superb example of wines made from this light, fruity grape and offering a smooth mix of citrus and apricots that is great as an aperitif or with food.
If you’re a sweet wine person, the Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is a fabulous way to finish a meal. It’s fresh and bursting with melon and tropical fruit. It also comes in a stylish bottle with a glass stopper in place of a cork!
However, while the rest of the range ticks many boxes, it’s the Cinsault Rosé that gets our vote for the top product from this vineyard. It’s a little dryer than some rosés, but very fruity, with ripe raspberry the overarching flavour.
Wout van Aert was first to the top of Mont Ventoux in Le Tour, reaching the summit after a gruelling stint of more than five hours in the saddle. For those who prefer to live life at a more leisurely pace, the Chateau Pesquié range is more about climate than climbing it – and much more delicious than any recovery drink!