Podcast 15 The wines of Robert Skalli

Don’t count France out when it comes to Value!

Don’t count France out when it comes to Value!


robertskallilogo-300x286I was invited in the beginning of April by Benson Marketing Group to taste some value wines from the Languedoc. The wines were presented by none other than Laurent Sauvage the Head Winemaker for Skalli Family Wines Americas. Laurent is responsible for the Skalli Family Wines produced in Languedoc: Robert Skalli varietal and AOC wines, and Fortant varietal and Fortant kosher wines.  The wines that he presented that evening where the Robert Skalli wines, as well as the Fortant varietal wines.

Laurent Sauvage Winemaker

Laurent Sauvage Winemaker

The Skalli family got its start in the wine business in Algeria in the 1920’s when Robert’s grandfather Robert-Elie established vineyards in Oran, Mascara, Mostaganem and Ain Temouchent.  The vineyards were planted with traditional grapes from the South of France: Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache and Alicante. The entire Skalli family, including Robert’s father Francis, cultivated and vinified full-bodied, generous wines made from low yielding vines which were eagerly sought by French wine merchants.

In 1961, Robert’s father Francis Skalli  purchased vineyard land on the island of Corsica called Terra Vecchia.  At the same time in the Languedoc region, he set up a company dedicated to importing wines from Algeria. In 1974 at the age of 24, Robert joined the family wine business in the Languedoc region and Corsica. He set out to increase the quality of these properties.
A trip to California revealed many similarities between California and sunny Languedoc.  He felt particularly at home in the Napa Valley. Robert returned to France with two dreams:  improve the quality of wines coming from the South of France and create a top quality wine from the Napa Valley.  In 1982, Skalli purchased and began planting the Dollarhide Ranch in Napa Valley; the winery was built on a second estate vineyard in Rutherford and opened late in 1989 as St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery.
During that same period, Robert Skalli laid down a challenge in Languedoc.  In order to bring out the full potential locked in the region and orient it towards quality production, he believed the region should put its energy behind developing varietally-labeled wines, a concept whose success he had observed in California. This approach, however, was a radical departure to the long standing French tradition built on the appellation d’origine contrôlée system governing most high quality French wines. Together with Jacques Gravegeal, chairman of southern France’s Vins de Pays d’Oc association, Robert helped create the official ‘Vin de Pays d’Oc’ designation and the first French varietal wines under his new Fortant brand.

In 2000 and 2001, the family also acquired the Languedoc’s prime Domaine du Siléne estate and Maison Bouachon, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer. In the fall of 2007, he established Skalli Family Wines Americas, a US import company focused on the wines of the South of France.
As I mentioned before both the Robert Skalli and Fortant wines are incredible values, the Fortant varietal labeled wines retail for $6.99 (yes your read it right) and include: Chardonnay, Merlot Rosé, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon. The Robert Skalli line retails for around $19 and include: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and AOC Coteaux du Languedoc (blend of Syrah & Grenach).

For more info and more details on my impressions of the wines I recommend you listen to the podcast.

Here are my value picks (QPR) that stood out from the evening:


2006 Fortant Merlot. (this wine is unoaked) $6.99
Very fruit forward on the nose, showing aromas of ripe barriers, jammy plum, blackberry and cassis. The palate reveals flavors of ripe black fruit that is reminiscent of jammy plums, blackberry syrup, and crème de Cassis.  This is a medium bodied wine with medium acidity that gives a nice lift to the ripe fruit, the tannins are ripe and lend some nice structure. By no means a complex wine, it is however very pleasing to drink and a perfect match with backyard BBQ, picnic lunch at the beach, or charcuterie and cheeses.  This wine over delivers for the price point, remember it is only $6.99.  I recommend this for your next back yard party on a hot summers eve.

2007 AOC Coteaux du Languedoc (blend of Syrah and Grenach) $18.99

On the nose the wine reveals aromas of liquored cherries, bacon fat, blackberries, and sun-baked rosemary, and eucalyptus. The palate reveals medium alcohol, chewy tannins and a pleasant acidity and some minerality. The flavors of dark chocolate covered cherries, blackberries, liquorice, hints of soy sauce, and dried herbs unfold in cascading layers that highlight the old world charm of this wine.  The wine finishes both long and complex. You are getting a lot of wine for the $18.99 price!  I am going to keep this on hand for when I am grilling flank steak on the grill or have a doubting Thomas over who claims that all French wines are overpriced.

For more info and more details on my impressions of the wines I recommend you listen to the podcast.

Here is a list of wine search engines that I mentioned in the podcast:

Some of the other bloggers at the tasting:
drxeno (winelog.net)
Brix Chicks
Luscious Lush

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