Sylvain Bock is among a group of natural winemakers forging a new path for wines from the rugged, rocky region known as the Ardèche. This is a place in France that Sylvain Bock refers to as the Northernmost South. Grape varieties here range from the distinctly Southern (Grenaches Noir, Blanc, Gris, Syrah, Merlot) to the varieties more typical of the limestone-dominant marl of more northerly areas like Burgundy, Beaujolais, or the Loire Valley (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gamay). As he says: Northernmost South. And the marriage of variety and soil cements his argument that here may be the best place to make creative wines of rigor and elegance: the area around Alba-la-Romaine and Valvignères varies from loose limestone topsoil with older limestone bedrock to a more rigorous basalt as you move from the lower elevations to the highlands around the various valleys of this growing area. It seems an embarrassment of ecological riches to have, that is, with which to grow grapes. So much so that it should come as no surprise Romans grew grapes to be vinified into wine here; they gave it a name: Vallis Vinaria, also known as “wine valley.” These are pure wines with depth that belie their often whimsical labels & cuvée names. Wines that can be aged certainly, but in most of the bottles’ cases Sylvain has already done that, only bottling wines when he feels they’ve had ample maturation at the domaine. Really brilliant, inspiring wines from the Ardèche fit for any summer dinner table.
Grenache & Syrah from the underdog Ardèche. Fermented separately in whole clusters in stainless steel before blending and aging in fiberglass. Unfined, unfiltered, no SO2. Sylvain's wines are soulful and simple delights, bottles we eagerly anticipate each year. This is new, entry-level cuvée for the producer, intended to be drunk young and fast. Juicy juice for a rooftop hang.