Recently, I’ve really gotten into tasting and comparing wines and when I was offered to taste quite a few wines from the line-up of Marrenon, I quickly jumped the gun.
Yesterday, my friendly neighborhood wine guys at Kolding Vinhandel (Kolding Wine Store) celebrated their 23rd year of selling wine in Kolding, and they did so by inviting friends, customers and connections to drop by for a taste of a few wines and some special offers. Not being the kind of guy to say no to a free tasting or good offers on quality wines, I made it a priority to go.
I also made it a priority to ask along my beautiful friend and fellow wine lover, Zascha, who I had been meaning to do something with for ages, but just hadn’t found the time for. I thought a nice little tasting followed by dinner just might be the thing.
Now, the subject of the tasting in question was the wines of Ventoux and Luberon, specifically those made by Marrenon.
Marrenon is a large-scale producer of wines in the Ventoux and Luberon regions of France. Though grapes are supplied by hundreds of growers, the grapes used in Marrenon’s individual wines are limited to specific smaller geographical areas, sub-areas or a single vineyard even. And unlike other large producers – so-called cooperatives, we’re told that Marrenon strive to not mix grapes from a myriad of growers to produce their finished wines. Rather, they aim to keep mixing to a minimum and for their flagship products, they rely on one single vineyard per wine!
In that spirit, Marrenon offers three lines of wines, all presumably aimed at expressing the unique quality of the areas from which they were sourced. Naturally, all three lines were represented in the tasting:
- Les Classiques: Marrenons most affordable range. Made from grapes sourced from a number of growers located all over the Ventoux or Luberon regions. Meant as an introduction to the world of Marrenon, and the regions in general.
- Les Terroirs d’Altitude: A more upscale range of wines sourced from a limited number of selected vineyards located exclusively on slopes at an altitude between 300 and 500 meters above sea level.
- Les Sélections parcellaires: Single Vineyard flagship wines made using selected grapes from selected vineyards that are vinified separately and with extra care and precision
Wines being poured at the tasting included two whites and three reds, ranging in price and quality from the fairly standard to upper levels. In charge of pouring was Julien Sanchez, a representative from Marrenon, who had very kindly made the long trip all the way from France to showcase his wines at this little birthday tasting.
What follows below is a list of the wines tasted as well as some tasting notes and thoughts on the individual wines. The final scores are purely my opinion, though I did receive a lot of help with notes, thoughts and input from Zascha.
A note on the scores below: As a lot of other people, I use the 100 point scale as pioneered by Robert Parker to score wines, the main reason for this being I just think it works and makes sense. This system weighs wines on a scale from 50 to 100, with 50 being completely unacceptable and 100 being the perfect wine. More info on the rating system can be found here.
2011 Marrenon Classique Luberon, Blanc
40% Grenache Blanc, 40% Vermentino, 20% Ugni Blanc
Very light yellow in color, crisp and crystalline. Some lemon and tropical fruit on the palate. Very refreshing entry-level wine. Would probably go down very well as an apéritif on a warm, sunny day.
2011 Marrenon Classique Luberon, Rouge
60% Syrah, 40 % Grenache
Quite nice but subdued fruity nose. Wild berries? Cherry? A little thin on the palate, well-balanced with no single element really standing out. An average wine that wouldn’t harm anyone.
2011 Terre du Levant Ventoux (Red, Les Terroirs d’Altitude)
80% Grenache, 20% Syrah
This one definitely packs more punch than the Classique! The Grenache shines through, delivering more spice and dark fruit on the nose. More mouth-feel and character than the Classique with quite a long, slightly tannic finish.
I remember really liking this wine in earlier tastings but on the day, I was a little underwhelmed. Quite possible that I just wasn’t in the mood. Strange, really!
2011 Doria (White, Sélections parcellaires)
60% Vermentino, 30% Grenache blanc, 10% Rousanne
Now we’re talking! Intense and complex nose of ripe fruit, warm slightly toasted wood and a buttery toffee-like note. Mouth-feel is thick and pleasant. Taste mirrors the nose: ripe fruit, toffee, slightly spicy. Complex, very nice!
I think this was served a little on the cool side as more notes popped up as it warmed up in my glass and had a bit of a breather. A good purchase at the asking price and at 23% off on the day, a downright bargain! Consequently, we bought four bottles of this.
2010 Orca (Red, Sélections parcellaires)
90% Grenache, 10% Syrah
The Grenache vines providing the grapes for this wine, we were informed, had an average age of 85 years and were harvested very late.
The smell of this wine alone was a knockout: Deep notes of dark, dark fruit and tobacco. On the palate, it was unfortunately rather closed but showing potential: Oaky tannins, pepper, spices, fruit, layers of flavor. This wine should continue to improve for years to come and if served now needs a lot of air!
I predict quite a lot of potential in the wine and did take home few bottles for the cellar. If you’re interested, I suggest buying now as I would be surprised if price don’t rise once this wine hits maturity.
Score: 90+/100 (at time of tasting, will improve with age!)
To sum up: at the entry-level, Marrenon deliver well-made and quite reasonably priced standard wines that are sure to please the general crowd, but may not send geeks jumping for joy. In the upper echelon, though, they deliver memorable experiences at similarly reasonable prices.
It reportedly gets better than that, though: at the very top of their lineup sits the fabled Gardarèm which I, regrettably, have not yet had the pleasure of tasting, but I hear it’s a real beauty.