Ep 407: Beaumes de Venise - An Overview of the Stylish, Dual Appellation Region of the Côtes du Rhône
In Educational Partnership with
This show is all about the Beaumes de Venise AOC, which is a double threat, making two distinctly different, yet equally stunning wine types, with a cru for each:
- Beaumes de Venise has been a red-only Cru of the Côtes du Rhône since 2005. It is a blended wine based on Grenache, with Syrah and Mourvèdre. The production area is spread over four communes and stretches 680 ha or 1680 acres. The communes are Beaumes de Venise, Lafare, Suzette, and La Roque-Alric – all located in the Vaucluse Department.
- Muscat de Beaumes de Venise has been a vin doux naturel appellation since 1945 (76 years!). It is smaller, expanding over just 314 ha or 776 acres. The wine has likely been made here since Roman times and it is insanely good!
Beaumes de Venise has a distinctly Mediterranean climate, and it posts higher temperatures than some surrounding areas because the Dentelles de Montmirail shield the area from the strong, blowing cold of the Mistral wind. But Beaumes de Venise is distinct from other areas in that it has very high elevations -- the vineyard lies on slopes at 200-450 M/656-1,476 ft. The diurnal temperature swings and the breezes at elevation account for the freshness and acidity that is the hallmark of these wines.
Photo: The Dentelles de Montmirail, Getty Images
There are four main types of soil in Beaumes de Venise – three for the red Cru, and one that is best for Muscat:
- Triassic Earth (Terres du Trias): Triassic soil from 200-250 million years ago normally resides 1,500m/4,900 ft underground, but the Dentelles de Montmirail rose from deep in the earth, and the Triassic deposits came to the surface. These soils are shallow, poor, and orange/yellow (iron-rich soils often have this hue). The high clay content protects vines from drought and humidity.
Photo: A wine made only from the Triassic soils, from Rhonéa
- Cretaceous White Earth (Terres Blanches). Formed 90 million years ago, this gray-colored rock is made of well-drained calcareous clay and marl (limestone). The Grenache and Syrah vines are of especially high quality here, as they dig deep into the soil for nutrients.
- Jurassic Grey Earth (Terres Grises) from 140-150 mm years ago are Oxfordian black marl, made up of silt, clay and sand and are located mainly north of the village of Lafare, on south-eastern slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail. These soils promote fruity flavors and uniform ripeness.
- Miocene Sandstone a sandy-clay soil produced from the erosion of soft rock from the Miocene Period 15 million years ago. These soils lie close to the town of Beaumes-de-Venise. The soil is credited with giving elegance and subtlety that makes the Muscat here so special.
Grapes and flavor profiles for Beaumes de Venise (red)
The main grapes of the Beaumes de Venise Cru are Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. The red must be at least 50% Grenache Noir, with a minimum of 20% Syrah and Mourvèdre together or separately. A maximum of 20% of all the “accessory grapes” are allowed but whites can be no more than 10% of the mix.
Red accessory grapes are Carignan, Cinsault, Vaccarèse, Counoise, Muscardin, Piquepoul Noir, and Terret Noir. White accessory grapes are: Bourboulenc, Clairette (blanc and rose), Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Piquepoul blanc, Ugni blanc, and Viognier.
Photo: Grenache, Getty Images
Beaumes de Venise Cru (dry red) is a fruity, ripe red, with a medium body, silky, medium tannins and refreshing acidity. Typical flavors are red berry, blackcurrant, and herbs. Certain versions are peppery with baking spice, garrigue, dried leaf, earth, and licorice. There are some fuller versions with jammy, coffee, dried fruit notes with higher alcohol, more prominent tannins, and a long finish. But even fuller versions have nice acidity and a balance of freshness and fruit. Beaumes de Venise red wines age gracefully and are more mellow and leathery after a few years. Roasted or grilled meats, mushroom tartlets, and Camembert cheese are great pairings for this wine.
Grapes and flavor profiles for Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (vin doux naturel)
The vins doux naturels for Beaumes de Venise are made of the Muscat grape. The Muscat Beaumes de Venise wines are the only Muscat-based wine in the Rhône outside Clairette de Die. They are made only from Muscat blanc a Petit Grains grape, the finest in the Muscat family of grapes. These wines are mostly white (84%) with some red (1%), and rosé (15%), the latter two being from Muscat Noir, a color mutation of Muscat blanc.
Muscat has been grown in Beaumes de Venise since 600 BC and today, the grapes grow on warm, sandy soils on mainly south-facing slopes. Considered the most elegant Muscat Vin Doux Naturel in the world, the wines are made through the process of mutage, fortification with pure grape spirit after the grapes ferment to 5 to 10% alcohol. This process leaves sugar from the grapes in the wine, making them “naturally” sweet.
The style of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise ranges from heavier and higher in alcohol to lighter with more delicate flavors. Muscat de Beaumes de Venise has intoxicating aromas and flavors like white flowers, citrus, pears, peach, tropical fruit like mango or lychee, honey, and even grapey notes. The wines are sweet with acidity and a very long finish, but the exact flavors and combination of acidity, alcohol, and sugar are dependent on site and producer. There is so much to explore!
Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is great with food...
Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is great as an aperitif if it is a lighter style or, with, after or as dessert if it is heavier. The wine goes really well with Asian food –spicy Chinese or Thai and Indian are ideal. It’s a great gift to bring to a host – it will wow the crowd for its delicacy, versatility and unique profile!
Photo: Courtesy of Beaumes de Venise AOC
All the Beaumes de Venise wines are excellent and are fantastic value for money. The reds will become a staple in your weekly drinking and you’ll have so much to choose from as you pick wines from different soils and expressions from different producers. The whites will be your new guilty pleasure.
Thank you again to the appellations of Beaumes de Venise for the educational partnership and financial support for this show! Please visit the AOC's site for more information on Beaumes de Venise!
Photo: Courtesy of Beaumes de Venise AOC
Photo: Dentelles de Montmirail, Getty Images
This podcast and post are part of a paid partnership with Beaumes de Venise.