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the wines of Château Val Joanis

by Tom Cannavan, 08/2009

The Côtes du Lubéron region straddles a buffer zone between the southern Rhône and Provence. In the heart of the AOC lies Château Val Joanis, owned by the Chancel family. Jean Barthélémy Chancel recently sent me some of his latest cuvées, white, rosé and red, to taste.

Domaines Chancel is a négociant and grower, producing estate wines at Château Val Joanis and nearby at Domaine Saint Andrieu in Provence, and making Champagne many miles to the north, under the Champagne Louis Barthélémy label. The domaine has earned a very good reputation for its wines.

Château Val Joanis is situated north of Aix-en-Provence, on the site of an ancient Roman villa, the foundations of which are still visible. Jean-Louis Chancel bought the property in 1977, planting 186 hectares of Syrah and Grenache for red and rosé wines, and Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Ugni-blanc for his whites. There is also estate production of olive oil and visitors are welcome to the estate.

A system of sustainable agriculture is employed, with chemical fertilisers replaced by organic supplements of vegetable origin. Erosion is controlled by systematically sowing the vineyard with ground cover plants, and spraying is kept to the necessary minimum on these limestone and gravel soils.

the wines

Château Val Joanis Roussanne Tradition 2008
There is a very nice perfume to this Roussanne, made at low temperatures in stainless steel with a little Grenache Blanc and Ugni Blanc in the blend. Some quite delicate floral notes and peachy fruit are joined by a pear skin quality. The palate has a bit of phenolic grip, but it has freshness too, with a bit of bite and yellow plum fruitiness pushing through. 87/100. Around £11.50, see all stockists on

Château Val Joanis Syrah Rosé Tradition 2008
This pink Syrah (with a little Grenache in the blend I beliieve) has a lovely, delicate, peachy-pink colour and offers very refined aromas of subtle peach skins, redcurrant and a touch of raspberry, but it is all very gentle and fine. On the palate this has a little bit of grip, but it is mostly about lemony fruit with just a hint of softer strawberry beneath, and a long, cool finish. 86/100. Around £10.50, see all stockists on

Château Val Joanis Reserve les Griottes 2006
Val Joanis's Reserve les Griottes is a blend of low-yielding Syrah and Grenache, matured in oak, from a terroir said to be Châteauneuf-esque with large pudding stones covering the ground. There's an immediate sense of richness and ripeness on the nose, with dark, bramble fruit and a savoury polished wood and cedar edge. In the mouth this has lots of intensity, with a concentrated, fleshy texture and grippy tannins drying the side of the mouth. This has balance, with some smoky oak and fresh acidity buttressing the finish. 90/100. Around £16.00, see all stockists on

Château Val Joanis
84120 Pertuis, France
Tel: (33) 04 90 79 20 77
Fax: (33) 04 90 09 69 52