“Once upon a time there was an unwanted grape variety planted in our regions. “Not mature enough” for some, “too austere” and “out of place” for others. “Just perfect” in our opinion. This grape is Grenache, and the result is in this bottle. An appetizing and juicy wine to be shared between free drinkers. A free drinker” 100% Grenache and declassified as Vin de France, this is part of the limited bottled ” Les Dissidents” range.
Following a number of experiments, a whole instinctive range comprised of micro-cuvees and varietal wines, prohibited by the appellation, in truly exclusive, libertarian style with a choice of what the winemaker believe to be the best varieties of the soil, this unclassified range of French wine defies the institutions, their regulations and conventional wine. Yield of 45 hectoliters per hectare with non sulfite fermentation with indigenous yeasts and bio-protection (by using non saccharomyces yeasts to avoid brettanomyces.) Post fermentation maceration for 10 days at 35 degrees Celsius, malolactic fermentation and aging for 3 months in concrete tanks. A lovely fragrant nose of wild cherries, violets and pomegranate. Cured game and raspberries on the nose. But then when taking a sip, your whole mouth fills with peppercorns. Quite extraordinary and arresting! It almost distracts from the rather scrumptious, gleeful plum and raspberry wine-gums fruitiness. Again a wine you could chill and just vacuum up with a barbecue. This ends up with a trace of ink dust and crumbled dried rosemary on the finish. Made like candy, this wine is so trendy and punchy.
“Despite successful corporate jobs in Paris, and no formal winemaking experience, Stéphanie and Olivier Ramé decided to change their lives by taking the reins of the family wine estate in the northwest area of the Languedoc when Stéphanie’s father in law announced an intention to sell. At the time, the estate was happily producing only three wines; a red, white and rosé made in bulk and bottled from a truck, recalls Olivier Ramé who quickly embarked on the OIV master’s degree and travelled to 30 countries around the world to ‘learn from the outside’.
Ramé was particularly inspired by the traditional winemaking styles in Georgia (prompting the use of amphorae vessels for his own wines) as well as enjoying Cabernet Franc from central European countries and Riesling from Germany but it was a desire to see why a certain wine succeeded or not commercially that really interested him.
The question was, ’Commercial wines or the wines he liked?’ He started up with the former and ended up with the latter, with a change to organic winemaking and vinifiction without sulfites. Grapes are influenced from terroir on two sites; on the Cabardès side at an elevation of 200m on white limestone soil imparting a mineral, saline, fresh edge while vineyards in Moussoulens are deeper and clay-dominant save for one 5ha pebble-strewn soil ideal for Grenache. The appellation benefits from both Languedoc’s sunshine and Bordeaux’s rainfall putting it high on the quality scale in terms of delivering wines with a unique identity and typicity.
These are ‘no make-up wines’ as Ramé calls them, no oak, no over-maturation and indigenous yeasts used instead of commercial ones, the grape characteristics and terroir are allowed to shine in the glass. He also eschews the notion of following ‘stupid’ AOC laws to decide what goes into the bottle, instead choosing to remove the word château and domaine for labels and instead opt for Maison Ventenac so ‘now we can talk about the wine’.
Sustainable viticulture is practised, and the estate began organic conversion in 2018 with the switch-over taking place officially by the 2021 vintage – an important step for the ‘freshness’ of the wines says Ramé who believes the process has changed the way the vines look and given grapes more natural acidity.”