Frédéric Chaudière returned to Vancouver last week to promote his Château Pesquie wines from the Ventoux, Rhone Valley Vineyards.
He was last in the city during the 2019 Vancouver International Wine Festival and will return next February as part of the French contingent, the designated theme region of the 2020 festival.
Château Pesquie has been sold in local markets for more than a decade, but Chaudière hopes to increase Pesquie’s reach within British Columbia and across Canada. The market is far less friendly to imported wines than it was a decade or two ago, but the good news is Pesquie has the goods in the bottle, and his prices are among the most attractive for the quality. The challenge is getting retailers who continue down the faceless, placeless brand market to think people and place and all the good stuff that goes with wines made in that genre.
Chaudière’s path to wine is inspiring in the face of today’s slap some juice in a bottle and shamelessly flog it as if it was a Grand Cru. The Pesquie history is the story of two families passionate about their wine region, Ventoux. In the early 1970s, Odette & René Bastide bought Château Pesquie from an heir of a famous Provençal writer, Alphonse Daudet. René & Odette chose quantity over quality and restructured the vineyards resulting in vines that average 35 to 40 years of age; the oldest are close to 100-years-old, and all yielding notable wine.
By the mid-1980s, Edith & Paul Chaudière, René & Odette’s daughter, and son-in-law gave up their medical careers and took over the family estate. They studied at the “Université du Vin” in Suze-La-Rousse and prepared a thesis on terroir selection where their travels took them to Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Oregon, Burgundy, Piedmont, Rioja and more.
The Chaudière side of the family has been growing vines for the past 150 years, beginning in Algeria after they emigrated from Alsace when it temporarily became a German territory in 1871. Paul, Edith, René & Odette left the local cooperative to set up Château Pesquie in 1989 and released their first wines in 1990. In those days there were only ten independent cellars in the Ventoux, making the Chaudières pioneers of a sort.
In 2003, Alexandre and Frédéric took over the domain from their parents Paul and Edith. Together the family tradition continues. The boys have gone from sustainable to organic grape growers and next year will be fully certified Demeter biodynamic enhancing Château Pesquie’s allure as a leading estate in Ventoux and the southern Rhone Valley.
I tasted through a series of terrific white, rosé and red wines under the Château Pesquie label. The workhorse red is the Pesquie Terrasses a Grenache/Syrah blend that pays homage to the terraces their ancestors carved into carefully chosen hillsides in the Ventoux. It’s a delicious wine and the only one available in BCLDB stores. You will see it at the festival, for sure.
Pesquie works with many traditional southern Rhone grapes such as Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, Roussanne and Clairette that are thriving on the clay, sand and mostly limestone terraces and hillsides of Mt. Ventoux. The Pesquie Rose is one of the best Rhone pinks I have tasted this year and the white Terrasses, and Quintessence, are equally fresh and compelling.
Frédéric and Alexandre have released a series of single-vineyard labels that take the family’s exploration of terroir to an even higher level labelled — Artemia, Silica and Ascensio. It’s the freshness that makes all the difference something I note is a trademark of biodynamically farmed vines.
Finding Château Pesquie will require some searching in better private wine shops, but it will be worth your time. Search in the French/Rhone/Southern Rhone section or ask your retailer. You may be lucky enough to find some of Chaudiere’s brother’s labels. I can guarantee they will sell out fast at the wine festival on-site store next winter.