2020 was supposed to be the breakout year for the Ventoux wine region of France in the USA. The region, that has lived in the shadow of the Rhone Valley, was poised to be at the April Hospice du Rhone, the trendsetting wine event, held every other year in Paso Robles California. While a lesser known here in the USA, the Ventoux, like Beaumes de Venise, Rasteau and the Plan de Dieu, is one of the real hidden wine gem producing regions in France, where Rhone grapes grow, with intense concentration, stylistically correct fruit and vibrant intensity. They also offer incredible values when compared to the rapidly rising prices for Chateauneuf du Papes, Gigondas and the ethereal wines of the Northern Rhone from Cornas and Cote Rotie.
But with the postponement of this year's Hospice du Rhone, the Ventoux's big promotional effort in the USA has been pushed back. But the HdR event being put on hold wasn't the only hurdle for the region. The impact of the tariff increase also hurts them. While the wines are often big and bold, rarely do they hit the higher alcohol levels, so the additional 25 percent tax was detrimental as well. And then there was Covid-19. With the closure of restaurants and reduction in customers in bars, and a shift to retail by wholesalers who are wheeling and dealing with the wines already in the warehouses to bring in cash, new and established producers who had been looking towards, the USA as a market of opportunity, have seen those plans delayed.
The Ventoux wines will rise in the USA. It just may take a bit longer. So while some negociant wines from the region have wider distribution, if you want to find the real wines from the region look for Fondreche, Pesquie, Clos de Trias, Chene Bleu, Vintur, Chateau Unang and Saint Jean du Barroux, as those are the producers to know, as they are the producers who matter.