This bottle of The Foundry Roussanne 2015 was a gift from my friend Keith Prothero. He spends half the year in South Africa and is a great ambassador for the wines of that country. He has recommended me a plethora of wines from there and most have been pretty bloody good.
If you are ancient as I am you may remember the South African, seemingly universal-brand KWV. Forget all that generic co-op shit, South Africa is now an excellent source of very high-quality wine. The Foundry make an array of wines priced at a wallet friendly level and the couple I have had, both Grenache Blanc, were delicious. This is quite surprising as most French Grenache Blanc is not only incredibly insipid, but also, if they have any character at all, it is unpleasantly filthy. Not so from The Foundry!
I am rather partial to Roussanne, so I hope this is at least of the quality level of the Grenache Blanc. I must admit to having a worry that I am going to be disappointed. Alas Roussanne, we are led to believe, is not the easiest grape varietal to grow and vinify. Moreover, this wine is distinctly at the affordable end of the cost of love lavished upon it-spectrum.
So now we have refreshed our prejudices about cheap wine being rubbish for philistines, let us dive into the wine!
Good grief this smells marvellous! It is a very classy Roussanne I can tell from just a quick sniff. It has the stone-fruit aromas, a shade of glue and a hint of creamy minerality. Very importantly, it shows no oxidative characters at all. These are all important markers for quality Roussanne.
The stone fruit is apricot-y and slightly peachy with a hint of pear. It’s all quite primary, that one would expect from a very young Roussanne, and it certainly has fruit enough to keep it pleasurable over a long life.
I recently had an excellent St Joseph Blanc 2006 from Chapoutier (whose wines I normally completely detest; in my experience they are vastly over-priced and distinctly lacking dimension – I once told one of the Chapoutier brothers that it was a shame his winemaking skills were eclipsed by his desire for money) with the epithet ‘Granite’. It was totally delicious (thank you for bringing that, Charles) – a near pure Roussanne wine of great sophistication and class. The stoney, slightly creamy minerality that had seems similar to this Foundry Roussanne. It seems from the nose of this it has what it needs to age was long and as gracefully as the StJo, even though they are not exactly the same.
My impression of this nose is that it belongs to a wine that demands ageing. I feel there is greater complexity bubbling under the surface and I feel that will express itself with more age and develop into a wine of quite a classy and sophisticated nature. As the StJo 06 showed, Roussanne can age with great success – this will I feel sure.
Like Northern- (and, from Chateau Beaucastel, Southern-)Rhone Roussanne-based wines the palate is a shade unusual. Despite the excellent acidity, which is to be applauded, this has a powerful, unctuous texture. It is not sweet, but it almost feels like a sweet wine – it has the density of a Sauternes or a Vendanges Tardives Riesling from Alsace. Let me repeat that it is totally dry, though. I like the thick, dense mouth feel of Roussanne – it is lavishly enjoyable.
This voluptuousness is perfectly balanced by the good acidity I mentioned and a solid stoniness, both of which keep it energetic and give it what it needs where it needs to age well. It has a long finish which is quite delicious. There are no oxidative flavours on the palate that is a great thing to enjoy in a well-made Roussanne that transcends its bargain price. It deserves some cellar time.
However, good as The Foundry Roussanne is, and it is very good, I don’t quite think it has incredible, involute detail of really great examples of the grape from the Rhône Valley. This is only a minor rebuke as it is still a damned good wine.
The wine is deliciously tasty, well-balanced, long and very well-made; The Foundry Roussanne punches way, way above the level of its few quid under twenty notes-price. At that price one cannot realistically expect it to compete with some of the finest appellations in the world that cost many, many times its price.
If you buy this, especially if you age it, you will be impressed. I’m glad I have a few bottles of the wine to age, and when I pop them in 5-10 years time, everyone will be impressed as well!