|Domaine De Ravanes - Marc Benin explaining his vineyards and land|
What a man, what a vineyard!
Marc Benin is a very clever person-- he is sharp, dynamic, generous, passionate, and adventurous. And you taste it all in his wines. Marc is the mad scientist of wine growers.
This is anything but ordinary. Domaine De Ravenes is a very particular vineyard. It breaks all of the rules, it veers off track, it gets creative, and it does it all fantastically.
But how can a vineyard in such a strictly regulated wine-producing country like France be such a rebel? Marc got lucky for an experimental French enologist. He inherited a vineyard which does not have an AOC (appellation d'origine contrôlée). Sure, this may make marketing a touch harder, but it gives Marc complete liberty to play.
|Domaine De Ravanes - Author, Lola Vardigans, takes a moment to take in the Languedoc light and vines|
I'll be honest, I found Marc because of a review from Jancis Robinson who claimed that Marc's Merlot rivals Petrus. Come on, this has to perk anyone's interest.
Let's see his wines.
|Domaine De Ravanes|
Sanceer & Sauvignon Blanc: Absolutely everything you want in a good-sipping Rose. This wine is exceptionally fresh, has a great scent of fresh ripe white fruits, and makes you hungry!
Ibis Blanc, 2010: This is something to get a hold of. I warn you, it's strange, and it's likely not for everyone. Marc had some fun making this one. A 50 / 50 blend of grenache blanc and ugni blanc. Ugni blanc? Yes, it's the grape that famously makes cognac. And surprisingly, you can actually taste that cognac flavor in the final moments of its persistent finish. The smell is already incredible: hints of sulfur and minerals. Its well balanced with great acidity and a nice bite of mineral that adds some zing to the fruity flavors of the ugni blanc.
2012: as above but a bit more fresh and acidic. I liked the bottle with a bit more age better, as the ungi tastes were more prevalent.
|Domaine De Ravanes|
Le Renard Blanc 2011: Made from 80 year old vines, this wine is 85% Grenache gris, 15% Macabeau. This would be my summer party wine. It opens up to you with a great nose: tropical, cooked pineapple, fennel, lemony salad. The taste had great acidity and was quite aromatic (orange blossom, even bubble gum). Frankly, the aromatics make the wine one I'd prefer with food.
Merlot / Cab 2010: Hang on, are we in the Languedoc? Yes. What makes Domaine De Ravanes so cool is that Marc takes from the best and makes it his own. Being a wine lover, of course a good Frenchman would only look to the Bordeaux region, the most famous region for the kings of grapes-- Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. So he took them to the Languedoc where he rightly predicted that he could make something good. And he did. This wine has a pleasant, understated and balanced nose, which all comes through on the taste. It's nice.
Petit Verdot: Using pre-phylloxera vines, Marc makes one heck of a wine here. It's plush, balanced, fun, chalky, acidic, natural, fresh and with some tastes of cumin and spice.
|Domaine De Ravanes - Marc Benin|
Reserve '08: This is a lovely wine that I just wanted to sip more and more of. It could even use a few more years in the bottle. The nose was beautiful, with a coolness, the smell of soil and apple orchard. The taste was gamy with a bit of chew to it, and the long finish brought out balance and some tastes of baking spices.
Reserve Le Petit Verdot 2008: This rockstar has been en barrique for 40 months! The nose is exceptionally clean and fresh: it's great to just stick your nose into it and breathe! There are notes of new sneakers, leather and the moisture of a stone wall. The taste is austere, meaty, roasted, some rosemary.
L'Ille 1998: This late harvest wine is 100% ugni blanc (again, the cognac grape). Left on the vines, these grapes pack in sugar making it a great cheese course wine. The nose has apple, cider, autumn and chilliness. The taste is sweet and sour… almost like a warhead candy with syrup and cider flavors. It begs a funky aged cheese!
|Domaine De Ravanes - Quinteszencia & L'Ille|
Quinteszencia 20 Dec: This ugni blanc, late harvest has been en barrique for a whopping 76 months. This is a strange wine for a person who is as much a mad scientist drinker as Marc is a wine maker. It smelled a bit like a very aged balsamic (here we're getting the sugars and the wood) and tasted like toffee, carmel and walnuts.
Here, I'll show you some photos of his beautiful vineyard and home. Not only is the wine fantastic, but this land just breathes vivacity and intrigue.
|A chapel in the woods of the property|
|Domain De Ravanes - the rugged land of the Languedoc|