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Elin’s Wine Pick: 2010 Orca Vieilles Vignes Ventoux

2010 Orca Vieilles Vignes Ventoux. Credit: JM Rosier, courtesy of Marrenon

2010 Orca Vieilles Vignes Ventoux. Credit: JM Rosier, courtesy of Marrenon

Every week I open dozens of bottles to taste before dinner, and am always on the hunt for good value wines I’d actually serve to friends.  Many are disappointments, but this week’s pick, the wonderfully raspberry-scented 2010 Orca from France’s Ventoux appellation, is a soft, velvety mouthful of bright spice, herb and plum flavors — and it costs under $20. Though it was delicious alongside our coq au vin rouge last Friday night, I think it would be even better with a hearty lamb or beef stew.

Elin McCoy’s Wine of the Week

2010 Orca Vieilles Vignes Ventoux

Price: $17

Region: Ventoux, France

Grapes: 90% Grenache noir, 10% Syrah

Alcohol: 14.5%

Serve with: Duck breast, lamb or beef stew cooked with red wine

The wine’s quality and character surprised me. Why? Because Orca is made by a big modern cooperative winery, Caves Marrenon, that sells a lot of its wines to French supermarkets. It draws grapes from 1,200 growers in the Ventoux appellation in the southeastern part of the Rhône Valley and from neighboring Lubéron and vinifies them in its own cellars. The winery has been steadily upping quality by overseeing and improving vineyard practices — many of the growers are moving toward organic viticulture — and in the past several years it has significantly improved winemaking.

Recently its top wines have been making their way to the United States. Orca is part of their line of single-vineyard wines, Sélection Parcellaires. While most wines from cooperatives are pretty generic in taste, Orca (and the other wines in this flagship range) has the tang of terroir.

Inside 2010 Orca Vieilles Vignes Ventoux

Geologically, Ventoux is pretty rugged wine territory. The Grenache grapes for this wine come from 60-year-old vines growing on the southern slopes of Mont Ventoux, a 6,200-foot isolated mountain that looms over the Rhône landscape.

Orca reminds me of a good Côtes du Rhône, though it has more Grenache than many of those do. Aging in older barrels keeps the wine’s taste balanced and fresh. Don’t expect lots of complexity or fabulous concentration. This attractive 2010 Orca is not a grand wine for studying, but is ideal for pleasurable everyday drinking.

Top photo composite:

Ventoux landscape and 2010 Orca bottle. Credit: JM Rosier, courtesy of Marrenon