The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

October 26, 2013

Howard Hewitt: Winemakers band together after hail destroys vineyard

(Continued)

But then, much like any Midwestern farm field, Villeneuve’s neighbors arrived. Or more accurately, friends and neighbors from across Provence came to his rescue. Owners from 35 different estates, including some of the smallest and most prominent, offered up fruit so Chateau de Roquefort would have a 2012 production.

So Villeneuve, with the help, decided to make three wines – a red, white and rosé which they would call a “special anti-hail solidarity” cuvée. And they decided to call the wines GRÊLE, which in English means “hail.”

Even more impressive than the solidarity of the winemakers, was the notoriously strict French winemaking governing bodies allowing the wine to be made. France has more legislation detailing what you can grow, where you can grow it, and how it goes into the bottle than most other countries combined. The Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Syrah, Cabernet, Cinsault, and more came from all over Provence and different appelations. That’s why the wine is simply called a cuvee.

Many others pitched in and provided needed help such as refrigeration trucks to move the donated grapes.

“This adventure still seems almost surreal today, and I think it will take me quite a while to appreciate what has actually happened over these last few months,” Villeneuve recently told the French press.

And by the way, the rosé is pretty terrific. The unique label with the names of the Domaines is distinctive as the wine. As a huge Provence fan, I was skeptical until the first taste. It’s a bit less crisp or acidic than many Rosé wines but has a very rich mouth feel. At $14-$16 is a great wine buy and and even better story.

Howard Hewitt, Crawfordsville, Ind., writes about value wine every other week for 23 Midwestern newspapers. Read his wine blog at www.howardhewitt.net.

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