Please note photographs will hopefully be included soon!
FANCY OWNING YOUR OWN VINEYARD?
THE O. FOURNIER GROUP OFFERS VINEYARDS IN ARGENTINA!
It was by a rather circuitous route that I first learned of the wines, and furthermore, the opportunities, offered by the O. Fournier Group. As a regular guest broadcaster on the SCOFFQUAFF Programme on Channel Radio, UK, I was followed, one week, by Señor José Manuel Ortega Gil-Fournier, one of the founders of the Group.
E-mail addresses were exchanged and websites viewed. The more I learned about the Group, the more excited I became – had I the where-with-all to be part of this exciting project, I’d certainly be interested! I wonder if any readers may be similarly inspired?
To paraphrase the Group’s own words, theirs is an admirable objective – to produce wines of undoubted quality, both in the Southern Hemisphere and in the North, respectively in Argentina and Chile; and Spain, Ribera del Duero, to be precise; and to sell those wines, worldwide.
With a budget of 8 million, 4 million of which has already been spent, it’s an ambitious project! The Group owns vineyards in all three countries, but it’s in Argentina where the prospects look particularly interesting. There are 84 vineyard plots owned by the Group and although lots have already been sold, there are still vineyards for sale. Some of these plots also include permission for a villa to be built on the land, surrounded by the vines that will produce the grapes to make the owners’ own wines!
These wines, made by the Group’s expert winemakers and staff, can either be sold via the Group, using all their contacts and the already established international markets; or there is also the option of owners producing their own label wines and developing their own markets. Both options are designed to cover costs and make a profit!
Of course, there’s a lot to it and the best way to find out all you need to know is by visiting www.ofournier.com, clicking on the ofwinepartners.com icon.
Señor Ortega kindly sent me some wines, examples from all three areas of production, and I’m impressed with what I’ve tasted – I’d like to taste more!
The Urban range of wines, which embraces the three countries and both Hemispheres, is designed to represent modern winemaking techniques with a view to delivering a fruit driven product which is easily accessible for those whose lives are in the fast lane, but which include some depth of flavour too. All of the four wines have been aged in oak for just three months, including the white Chardonnay, therefore enfranchising those who like the upfront fruit flavours but also require a little complexity.
Strangely enough I tasted the first, an Argentinian Malbec from the Mendoza Region, whilst in France, in Cahors, to be precise, the original home of the Malbec Grape Variety! Taking coal to Newcastle!
The vineyards of the area now known as DO Cahors were decimated by the invasion of Philoxera, the devilish pest that ruined the European wine trade at the time, as the 20th Century was about to arrive. Some growers who had the where-with-all and the courage escaped with some of their healthy vines, emigrating to Argentina, and starting, though they didn’t know it, what has become a fantastic success story – Argentinean Malbec.
Mendoza Valley is where much of the Malbec is grown, to wide acclaim –and it’s here where the O. Fourner vineyards are located. The simple label on the bottles, a design common to all the Urban range, describes on the outside, a part of that which the contents give to the taster. And it’s this easy drinking aspect that makes the wine so attractive.
Take your time, though, hold the wine on the palate for a while and you’ll also discover a bit more. There is a very faint earthy minerality which contributes to the overall fruity sensation. Blackberries, for me, rather than Blackcurrant, and yet there is a very slight flavour, and yes, feeling, of Cassis on the finish. It’s quite rich, lovely as glass of wine after work, but will taste, and feel, good wine meat dishes and pasta too.
I was interested in the Chardonnay from Chile. The Urban Uco Chardonnay vines are grown at well over 1,000 metres above sea level. There’s plenty of sunshine but at that height there is a dramatic drop in temperature at night, during the growing season. The result is a Chardonnay that has tropical fruit on the nose and palate, with noticeable masked banana aromas too, but also a faintly Burgundian elegance with fresh acidity.
This wine has also had the benefit of three months in oak, in this case, I suspect, French oak, which may have contributed to the Burgundy reference! I enjoyed this wine as an aperitif but also with cheese and, on the second night (which is also a compliment, for it lasted well, in fact for three days), it was well received with roast chicken!
Staying in the Southern Hemisphere and also in Chile, I next tasted the heady (14·5% abv) Urban Maule Red Blend – 50% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot and 20% Syrah. A fascinating wine, given that it has the fresh acidity of the above Argentinean Malbec, which was made from grapes grown at great altitude, when this wine comes from a vineyard of only 90 metres above sea level!
Again, the three months in barrel have added some depth of flavour as well as enhancing the aroma profile. You’ll find a light touch of coconut and coffee too with a very slight black pepper taste sensation on the palate, but, as with the whole of this range, it’s the accessibility of the fruit that makes this wine stand out! Look for plums, damsons perhaps and a touch of black cherry.
Finally, though there are several other ranges of wines made by the group (including yours, one day?!), a wine from much nearer home. Urban Ribera 2011is 100% Tinta del País (aka Tempranillo) and made in DO Ribera del Duero. It’s a tough call but I’d say that this was my equal favourite of those taste, with the Malbec.
There are classic strawberries on the nose and palate with some darker fruit notes too. You’ll find some depth in flavour and a certain presence – it also weighs in at 14·5% abv and is a real mouthful of pleasure!
So, do you fancy being a part of the O. Fournier experience, becoming a consumer like myself, of a wine-making partner?!
Contact Colin: firstname.lastname@example.org and through his wine services website www.colinharknessonwine.com , where you can also subscribe to his newsletter (free of charge, of course) and therefore have first-hand and early news of the various wine events he organises, most of which are sold out very quickly! Colin is also on Facebook; Plus you can follow him on Twitter @colinonwine for the latest on the Spanish Wine scene!