2014 Chêne Bleu "Abélard" VDP Vaucluse, Rhone Valley, France


The color is a deep yet brilliant garnet. The nose is a blessing of fine spice and white pepper with ripe black cherries. The palate is rich while simultaneously being smooth and silky with ripe red fruits and velvety tannins.

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A blend of 85% Grenache Noir and 15% Syrah.

Abélard, one of the most distinguished philosophers of medieval times, is most remembered for his tragic romance with the gifted young Héloïse. One of history’s most celebrated couples, Héloïse and Abélard are known for their intellectual brilliance, passionate love affair, eloquent letters and the tragedy that cruelly separated them. Sometimes referred to as “the Romeo and Juliet of France,” they were actually far more complex and accomplished individuals, and their love spanned many decades until the end of their lives, making it a symbol of enduring romantic love. This complex, brooding Grenache blend from older vines seems worthy of Abélard, who combined erudition with deep thinking and a near-fatal attraction.

Grenache vines are over 60 years old while the Syrah are an average of 50 years old.

Fermentation takes place in wooden tanks, with skin maceration for 5 weeks; 100% malolactic.

The wine is aged for 18 months in mix of old and new French oak from various coopers, primarily 228-liter (60-gallon) barrels with medium and medium-plus toast; plus 12 months in concrete tanks.


Xavier and Nicole Rolet purchased the property in 1993, enchanted by the secluded location of the vineyard and the history of the ancient priory that had been built nearly 1,000 years ago. The estate had been abandoned for much of the previous century, and the buildings were in ruins. The Rolets became completely passionate about every aspect of the place and the project, determined to do absolutely everything necessary to bring it to the highest possible world standards. A decade of meticulous work was required to restore the priory and nurture the neglected vineyards back to health.

With time, each small improvement in the vineyard was seen to be rewarded ten-fold with qualitative results, and expert advisors became extremely excited about the potential for the estate to produce “premier cru” calibre wines. The project evolved into a full-fledged winemaking endeavor that entailed reviving and replanting the vineyards, building a state-of-the-art multi-level winery and converting to biodynamic viticulture. Fortunately, much of Xavier’s family was involved in winemaking, and his sister Bénédicte Gallucci and brother-in-law Jean-Louis Gallucci joined the team as viticulturist and cellar master/winemaker, respectively. Encouraged by some of the top oenological talent in the world, Chêne Bleu released its first vintage in 2006.

As the vineyards began to thrive and the family realized the extraordinary potential of their terroir, they were driven to build a winery worthy of the commitment they had already made to the grapes. A state-of-the-art winery was essential, so for several years Xavier and Nicole visited some of the most impressive and advanced wineries in the world, consulted advisors, and studied equipment and construction plans. They then designed and equipped a winery to be built on four levels.

Excavation of a 12-meter-deep (36 feet) crater through solid rock was their first daunting task. Using the natural topography, they were able to situate the winery next to a hill, so the two lower levels were below ground level and the top two floors were against the hillside. In this way they were able to build a gravity-flow winery without disrupting the landscape and forested panorama. They used special materials instead of the usual reinforced concrete to avoid the “Faradic cage effect.” (This, named after the 19th-century scientist Michael Faraday, describes the potential for electromagnetic energy to be trapped inside the structure, potentially affecting the wine.)


Grape(s) Grenache, Syrah
Farming Biodynamic