Jean-Michel Vache has an enviable spread of sun-trapped vineyards, a parcel of which is planted with old Syrah vines. The hot summers and fully-exposed vines usually prompt a Vacqueyras harvest up to two weeks earlier than that of the cooler hilly sites of Gigondas. These often baking hot conditions during the growing season mean that less conscientious viticulteurs can produce rustic, fully-charged red wines where the lack of balance makes more than one glass over dinner a virtual impossibility! Luckily Jean-Michel is not one of these, in fact quite the opposite. His passion for good wine prevents him from allowing his grapes to over-ripen and from using any split or unhealthy ones for fermentation, which often affects purity of flavour and acidity levels. Acidity and purity are further preserved by maturation of all of the wines in steel and concrete vat. The delicious Templiers is made mainly from old vines Syrah displaying great depth, richness and fi nesse. The complex, structured and powerful Gigondas La Tour Sarrazine, which only comes from vines high up in the Dentelles, is a full-flavoured Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blend that demonstrates the harmonising effect of good fruit and acidity in a wine.
Vacqueyras is a predominantly red wine-producing appellation in the Southern Rhône, though some whites and rosés can also be found. It was the second of the Côtes du Rhône villages, after Gigondas, to be given its own appellation, in 1990. The blend is usually Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsaut. The vineyard area is about the size of Gigondas, covering nearly 1000ha. Vacqueyras tends to be a very powerful, rich wine, being at a lower altitude than Gigondas, and can be a bit heavier and less aromatic. Nonetheless there are a number of good wines, packed with character that make excellent value for money. Some particularly fine examples are made by Domaine Clos des Cazaux, Domaine de la Monardière and Chateau des Tours.