We have recently had the opportunity to taste wines from two excellent producers in the southern Rhône Valley that we were not familiar with before: Domaine Mas des Volques in the appellation of Duché d’Uzès and Domaine Marie Blanche in the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation. Both are situated west of the river Rhône, the side towards the Massif Central, an unexplored part of the southern Rhône valley compared to the more famous districts east of the river.
Domaine Marie Blanche, Côtes du Rhône Villages
We find Domaine Marie-Blanche in the small village of Saze, not far from Avignon on the other side of the river. It is a family estate of around 38 hectares, run by Jean Jacques and Marie-Blanche Delorme. The climate here is pleasantly Mediterranean, actually one of the warmest in the entire Rhône Valley.
The warm summers and varied soil types that include limestone, clay soils and the typical large pebbles of the Rhône give the characteristics to the different cuvées that the Delorme couple produces. The typical Mediterranean vegetation, known as la garrigue, surrounds the village and the vineyards.
The wines :
Signargues 2016, Domaine Marie-Blanche, Côtes du Rhône Villages
Mourvèdre, syrah and grenache give a straightforward wine with character. You will find fresh herbs, black pepper, some tannin and lots of fruit. The wine is intense and long on the palate. Very pleasant. (~15 euro)
Cuvée du Solitaire 2016, Domaine Marie Blanche, Côtes du Rhône Villages
There is a lot of power in this wine, and at the same time, it has lovely, refreshing fruit, with intense dark berries, balanced oak aromas and some peppery notes. A superb wine. (~18 euro)
Domaine Mas des Volques, Duchy of Uzès
The AOP Duché d’Uzès is beautifully situated on the west side of the River Rhône, 30 kilometres north of Nîmes and not far from the Lirac and Tavel appellations. Domaine Mas des Volques is run by Nicolas Souchon. He took over the family business in 2013 and completely changed it.
Before that, the grapes were sent to the village cooperative. But Nicolas wanted to make his own wine. He has exams in agronomy and oenology. He gained experience in New Zealand before getting a job at the well-known estate Clos Saint-Jean in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
In 2010, he met the acclaimed wine consultant Philippe Cambie and with his help, Nicolas took the leap. And we are happy he did because his wines are excellent. Nicolas quickly gained a reputation as a talented winemaker in the appellation Duché d’Uzès and also in the Rhône Valley in general.
Urnia Rosé 2019, Mas des Volques, AOP Duchy of Uzés
A full-bodied and above all tasty rosé that I like very much. With fresh red berry aromas and a completely dry finish, it feels crispy and refreshing. Beautiful colour as well. (~14 euro)
Alba Dolia 2019, Mas des Volques, AOP Duchy of Uzès
The interesting white is made from a blend of viognier, grenache blanc, roussanne and a pinch of clairette. Roussanne and viognier ferment in oak barrels and stays on the lees for six months. The nose is floral and slightly aromatic, and in the mouth, the wine opens up with plenty of fruit aromas such as peaches and apricots and a hint of honey. The finish is long with a touch of pleasant bitterness. Quite full-bodied and an excellent overall impression. (~13 euro)
Esus 2017, Mas des Volques, AOP Duchy of Uzès
Syrah dominates and is blended with grenache, carignan and a little bit of cinsault. The wine has no oak ageing, so you can really enjoy the lovely and intense aromas of fresh fruit and dark berries. Smooth on the palate, but the acidity gives a good structure. Excellent wine. (~10 euro)
Volcae 2016, Mas de Volques, AOP Duche d’Uzes
The grapes are syrah, grenache and carignan. Intense and concentrated dark fruit aromas with a lively freshness and balanced tannin, which gives an elegant impression. Some herbal notes as well. Very enjoyable. (~13 euro)