VGS Château Potelle was founded in 1983 by Jean-Noël Fourmeaux du Sartel and his former wife, who came from France to California in 1980 to see what Napa Valley had to offer. They decided to stay and produce California wines with a French approach from vineyards on Mount Veeder.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend an industry event at their tasting room and gardens in Saint Helena. Typically I am not a fan of tasting rooms, as I prefer to taste at the winery itself, but I was very impressed with our gracious and hilarious host, Jean-Nöel, the experience, the wines, and the food pairings.
Jean-Noël made it a point to greet all of the guests and take us in small groups on a tour of the tasting room and gardens, which just opened a few years ago. An eclectic mix of art adorns the walls. The tasting experience for customers is $45 and is a seated tasting that includes four wines paired with small bites made by La Toque Restaurant. The wines-only tasting is $35.
During the event, we tasted a number of their wines, including the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rivera Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, The Illegitimate, a unique blend of 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 17% Zinfandel, 11% Syrah, and Zinie, my first late-harvest Zinfandel. I found all of the wines to be less California and more French in style, with a sense of restraint, balance, and elegance. My favorite wines were the latter because they were so different from anything I’ve had recently. Jean-Noël explained that he named his unique red blend The Illegitimate, because it’s a blend that would have never been allowed if he were making it in France. Zinie was not as sweet as I expected it to be, but a perfect pairing with chocolate.
It must have been fate, because I was lucky enough to win a magnum of the 2012 The Illegitimate, so I look forward to tasting it with more focus and sharing it with friends. I would also love to experience lunch above the clouds at the vineyards. S’il vous plaît, Jean-Nöel?
Oh, and for those who have heard that VGS stands for Very Good Shit? The rumor might be true. However, you’ll have to visit to find out for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
À votre santé!