2003 Chateau Revelette Coteaux d'Aix en Provence Grand Rouge

Chateau Revelette Coteaux d'Aix en Provence Grand Rouge Peter Fischer once explained that he'd gotten into winemaking because he thought it would be a great way to make friendships and meet new people. Though often described as a visionary, he must be something of a prophet: ten years after the his family purchased Chateau Revelette , Fischer met his future bride--the daughter of the domaine's previous proprietors!

By the mid-1980s, the Fischers had decided to purchase a winery, and their son, Peter, was the obvious choice to identify the estate and broker the deal: they were in West Germany and Peter had just moved to Provence after having spent the better part of a decade in California, where he studied oenology at UC-Davis and then worked at a vineyard in Sonoma Valley. Fischer considered dozens of wineries before he finally succumbed to Chateau Revelette's dozen hectares of excellent terroir and its ideal Continental climate. Having struck out on his own, Fischer kept in close touch with the couple who had formerly run Chateau Revelette to discuss the new fields he had acquired, his renovations to the wine cellar, an so forth. In 1995, he met their daughter, Sandra, whom he hadn't seen in ten years. They fell in love, married, and now raise their two children in the same house that Sandra grew up in.

Today, Chateau Revelette has expanded to 24 hectares of organic plantings whose successful harvests depend upon a system that incorporates careful pruning, natural fertilization, and a nettle-and-egg-shell approach to pest control. The estate's Grand Rouge, usually an equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, is one of Fischer's two signature wines (the other, the his Grand Blanc, is 100% Chardonnay). To make the Grand Rouge, he ferments the hand-picked, hand-crushed fruit in oak bins, and then ages the wine in oak (including some new oak) barrels. Though he was trained in California, Fischer eschews making overly oaky wines and instead prefers to stress his wines' formidable terroir.

Though the summer of 2003 turned most of France into an inferno, the southern Rhone, where Chateau Revelette is located, experienced a fairly normal growing season (thanks in part to Monte Sainte Victoire, which kept the extreme heat and Mediterranean humidity at bay). That said, the 2003 harvest nevertheless occurred on September 25 (about 20 days earlier than usual), and Fischer created this vintage of Grande Rouge by combining 44% Syrah, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Grenache, and 4% Carignan. This blend has produced an especially rich, balanced wine that is characterized by its subtle black pepper bouquet, and a palate marked by ripe, powerful tannins, jammy blackberries, and exotic spices. Drink now-2012.