La Vieille Ferme Blanc 2019, Rhône Valley, France

La Vieille Ferme is one of the biggest and best-known wine brands from France’s southern Rhône Valley and has been a mainstay in America’s wine stores for decades. Owned by the Perrin family, which produces the famed Châteauneuf du Pape of Château de Beaucastel, La Vielle Ferme remains one of the top southern French wine values.

I was reminded of this as I sampled the 2019 La Vieille Ferme Blanc, which lists for an average price of $9 (on Wine-Searcher, a red and a rosé are similarly priced). It had been some years since I had tasted the wine, and I was prepared for something decent if not distinguished.

The wine rises well above “decent,” surprising me with its depth and complexity. While aimed at those who “enjoy quaffable wines,” according to La Vieille Ferme’s website, I see it somewhat differently. This is more a sipping wine, to be enjoyed primarily with food. It almost screams out for herbed fish or chicken, for example, or a risotto with asparagus, or a summer salad with lots of greens, beets, and crumbled chèvre.

Yes, you can drink it on its own, and you’ll find yourself contemplating its component parts – the stone fruit, the lime and grapefruit notes, the cut flowers, the touches of cinnamon and cream on the long finish. All of this is achieved with stainless-steel fermentation and aging without oak. It will all emerge, as I found, if you drink it cool but not cold.

The blend is an interesting mix of southern French varieties: the somewhat obscure Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, and Ugni Blanc. They combine in a crisp and sophisticated wine that has withstood the test of time. It’s been exactly half a century, to be precise, since La Vieille Ferme (translation: The Old Farm) was first introduced to the United States. It’s no surprise that you’ll still find it just about everywhere.

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