Beaumes de Venise Wine
In the 1997 edition of his 'Wines of the Rhône Valley', Robert Parker noted that: 'Domaine de Durban produces what many observers feel is the finest Muscat Beaumes de Venise of the appellation. It is always an extroverted and flamboyant wine, even in rain-plagued, lighter vintages.' He even cited it as a personal favourite in the introduction alongside the wines of such legends as Gérard Chave, Auguste Clape, Noël Verset and Georges Vernay.
We first shipped the Leydier family's Muscat in 1978 (a great Rhône vintage incidentally) so can testify that it has been remarkably consistent over the ensuing decades. It is made from small-berried 'Muscat à Petit Grains' and the process of mutage, whereby the fermentation is arrested by the addition of alcohol to 'fortify' the wine and leave over 100 grams per litre of residual sugar, guaranteeing sweetness. The finished wine has a lovely golden robe, intense apricot and orange blossom aromas and a rich palate of apricots and peaches with a wonderfully honeyed finish. Locally it is consumed as a pre-prandial apéritif but it serves equally well as an accompaniment to fruit-based desserts.
In 2005 Beaumes de Venise was finally awarded Appellation Contrôlée status for its red wines so the Leydiers elected to stop selling their Grenache and Syrah en vrac to local négociants and vinify their red grapes themselves. It called for substantial investment but was a wise decision. Their red 'Vieilles Vignes' bottling of Beaumes de Venise is made from a blend of 70% Grenache Noir, 25% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre that are raised in concrete and oak vats prior to blending and bottling. It has inviting liquorice and dark cherry scents and a dense black fruit palate supported by rugged tannins that soften with 3-5 years bottle age.
The family also make a creditable dry Viognier that is bottled as an 'IGP de Vaucluse'. It has good varietal character with a white peach and honeysuckle bouquet, a succulent stone fruit palate and a fresh dry finish. You are unlikely to mistake it for a Condrieu but it is a fifth of the price!