Sunday, February 15, 2015

Domaine de Coyeux, a winery with top tasting wine at the top of the Dentelles de Montmirail

A few months back, I received a text from friends Steve and Mary, I told you about them here, who were in the middle of a séjour in Sablet, saying they had visited Domaine de Coyeux, a winery located high above Beaumes de Venise near the top of the Dentelles de Montmirail.

They said the wines were delicious and the location and views from the winery were spectacular. By the time we arrived in Sablet a few weeks later, we had already decided we would go to the winery and see the sights and taste their wines for ourselves.

Domaine de Coyeux vineyards near the Dentelles de Montmirail

So off we went one Friday morning to Beaumes-de-Venise, a small village about 12 km south of Sablet at the foot of the southern slope of the Dentelles de Montmirail. Beaumes-de-Venise is one of several wine-making villages along the 78 km wine road that circles the Dentelles de Montmirail.

Just outside of Beaumes-de-Venise on the D90 heading toward Lafare, we found a sign pointing the direction for Domaine de Coyeux. We drove up the road until we arrived at a place where there was nothing but vineyards and the Dentelles de Montmirail in front of us. As Steve and Mary said, the views were spectacular. I stopped to take pictures, while Shirley walked ahead.

Road through vineyards up to Domaine de Coyeux

As I said, Domaine de Coyeux is located near the top of the Dentelles de Montmirail, short, steep mountains with a distinctive vertical comb of rock. The name Dentelles, the French word for lace, refers to the jagged, rocky tops obtained by erosion, while Montmirail is derived from the Latin mons mirabilis meaning "admirable mountain".

The Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range is about 8 kms (5 miles) long and runs from Vaison-la-Romaine on the north end to Beaumes-de-Venise on the south. The tallest peak of the Dentelles de Montmirail range is St-Amand, at 734 m (2,400 ft).

Domaine de Coyeux vineyards

The scenery around the vineyards that produce Beaumes-de-Venise wines would fit perfectly into a Tuscan landscape. Grapevines and olive groves mingle, rooted in soil well cared for by the winegrowers. While the name “de Venise” conjures up romantic images, it is of no relation to the Italian city. The name is a distortion of “de Venisse”, meaning “of the Comtat Venaissan”.

Located at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail, the terroir’s earth contains three types of soils, as well as deposits of Triassic rock that produces an exceptional type of soil that produces unique wines. Officially granted cru status in 2005, the AOC produces deep colored red wines, in shades ranging from cherry red to purple, as well as the famous dessert wine, Muscat.

Domaine de Coyeux vineyards

Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise wine was awarded AOC status in 1945. These wines are made through a process of arrested fermentation, to produce what is known in French as a vin doux naturel (naturally sweet wine). This technique is based on adding grape spirit (at a minimum of 96 degrees proof) to the semi-fermented grape must, killing the yeasts and thus stopping the fermentation.

This results in a high level of residual sugar and increases the alcohol content (to about 15%). The finished wines are pale gold when young, with delicate vegetal notes and hints of tropical fruits. With age, they develop a rich golden hue and acquire more-prominent flavors of honey, dried apricot and raisins.

Dentelles de Montmirail

The vineyards around Beaumes-de-Venise are very old; the wines can be traced back to 600 years before Christ, when a Greek community moved into the foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail. The first vines at Domaine de Coyeux were planted back in the 1950s. The Domaine was taken over by Hugues de Feraudy in 2013, whose family history in the Vaucluse dates back to the tenth century.

Olive tree lined entrance to Domaine de Coyeux

Domaine de Coyeux is located on the southern side of the Dentelles de Montmirail and includes one continuous parcel with 112 hectares (277 acres). The estate has Trias soil with pores filled with clay which capture the winter water from the soil that when released in the summer nourishes the root system of the vines, leaving grape berries thirsting for the sun.

Vines are planted on the Coyeux mountains at 300m (984 feet) elevation, the air currents bring freshness in the summer, contributing to healthy grapes and delicate aromatic wines. The Mistral winds quickly dry the foliage which minimizes the risks of parasites.

Shirley inside the tasting room at Domaine de Coyeux

The Domaine's Muscat wine is produced from vines on contiguous plots, the oldest of which will soon be 65 years old. Domaine de Coyeux produces approximately 140,000 bottles of Muscat wine every year from a unique grape variety called Muscat petit grain. This grape variety splits itself into two varieties, one with black berries and the other with golden berries. Regardless of their color, these two sub-varieties produce sweet Muscat wine.

Domaine de Coyeux

There are 17 hectares planted for production of Beaumes-de-Venise red wine. The age of the vines are between 35 and 65 years. Current production is about 72,000 bottles per year. Domaine de Coyeux farms three red grape varieties which are assembled together for the Domaine's red Cru wine, each with its own characteristics: Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre.

Views from Domaine de Coyeux

Domaine de Coyeux produces a small amount of Gigondas red Cru wine from a vineyard southeast of the village of Gigondas and Muscadin, dry and semi-dry white wines from the same grape variety, Muscat petit grain, as that of the Muscat sweet wine.

View toward Dentelle de Montmirail from Domaine de Coyeux

Muscat sweet wine should be served chilled (6° to 8° C). In addition to serving as a nice aperitif, it perfectly accompanies your meals: Appetizer: melons, foie gras, and warm oysters, Cheese: blue-veined cheeses (Roquefort, Stilton), and Dessert: coffee cakes and red fruit gratins.

Domaine de Coyeux

Steve and Mary were right; the Domaine de Coyeux wines are delicious and the scenery and views are spectacular. We will return when we are back in Sablet with our friends. If you are a wine lover, you should definitely go. If you are looking for spectacular views of the Dentelles de Montmirail, you should go too.

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoyed reading about this, thank you for sharing! I was in Lourmarin in the Luberon Valley last week ( and had I read this blog before I would have visited Domaine de Coyeux. I will put it on my list for next time.
    It was much chillier but the skies were still a cornflower blue and of course, as always, it was stunningly beautiful! It really is a captivating par of the world!