It is that time of that year again in Montreal, F1 weekend, so I thought to be more than appropriate to talk about the wines of Dirk Vermeersch, former F1 Belgian car racer.
I met Mr. Vermeersch on my previous press trip to the Rhone Valley in April. Before that, I had no idea who he was. Dirk is one of those relentless individuals, who cannot sit idle for a long time, just like a rambling racing car waiting to take off at the start line.
In 1999, after a succesful career in racing, instead of retiring, Dirk established himself in the south of France. With his family, he created one of the largest Bed and Breakfast of Provence. By coincidence, there was a small plot of Carignan in the property. Little by little, Dirk started tending the vineyard and eventually became a full time winemaker. From Provence, Dick worked his way up to the Rhone Valley. After that the rest is history, he got his fame by regularly earning stars in the guide hachette and Robert Parker.
Officially in the year 2000, Dirk founded the winery- Maison LePlan-Vermeersch. This is a stunning property of 24 hectares at the Suze la Rousse village in the Southern Rhone Valley.
The name consists of two parts. “Le Plan” which is the name of area in Tulette where the first vineyards of 1.78 ha were planted with Carignan grape variety in 1961. “Vermeersch” is the family name of the owners, originally from Bruges in Flanders / Belgium.
He is completely organic and uses state of the art technology to make the best wines. The vineyards have an average age of 40 years which yield low yields., 25hl per hectare. everything is artisanal, even the picking which is done by hand.
Although I think that his wines are not very representative of the Rhone Valley, I applaud his drive, enthusiasm and marketing. Dirk’s wines are a meeting point between California and the Rhone. Everything from his wine is haute couture: from the liquid, bottle, and label and cork design. Definitely, he has become a sort of marketing wine guy in the region.
Here are some of his wines that caught up my attention at Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône 2017.
LePlan-Vermeersch GT-Viognier 2016.
( 100 % Viognier,Destemmed, fermentation 50% in steel tanks, 50% in brand new French barrels, aging inox 3 months )
Very perfumed with notes of Madagascar vanilla bean, honey. On the mouth, racy and very long with expressive notes of apricot confit, and whole cloves. Classic round structure of a Viognier. Very elegant.
LePlan-Vermeersch GT-Rose 2016
( 100 % Grenache, 2 days maceration, destemmed, low temperature fermentation in steel tanks and 33% in barrels, aging in inox 3 months)
Powerful and brilliant with notes of ripe red currants, strawberry, eucalyptus balm and asian spices. Amazing balance. More finesse than concentration.
LePlan-Vermeersch Suze-La-Rousse Classic 2016
( Syrah 50% – Mourvedere 50%, Steel tanks, destemmed, aging in inox for 3 months)
Wood smoke, asphalt with dry and jammy black fruits. Intense in the mid palate, with bold tannins, yet with a very balanced approach.
LePlan-Vermeersch GT-Carignan 2013
( 100% Carignan from a clay-calcareous, pudding (rolling) stones terroir. Aging in a mix of american and french wood for 12 months)
Very sensual wine. Nuances of wood with deep layers of red fruit ( raspberry, pomegranate and strawberry). Multi-nuances of animal and flower notes. Graphite and pencil shaving as well. On the mouth, polished texture, racy and quite long with firm tannins.