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“Old-School Rosé Turned On Its Head”

June 22, 2020

Story: Leslie Pariseau

art: PUNCH

The bottle Jill Bernheimer can't stop thinking about is a progressive take on the bold, dark rosés of Tavel.

“When I first started the shop, people were just getting into rosé the way they’re into orange wine now,” says Jill Bernheimer, owner of Domaine LA, a retail wine store in Los Angeles. This season, she reports, customers are gravitating toward darker rosés that border on chilled reds, wines she describes as having “body and grip and substance and structure.” Lately, she too has been drinking along these lines. The wine that’s resonated with her most is Ad Vinum’s Ampli, a 2018 release from winemaker Sébastien Chatillon’s Rhône-based outfit. “It has this electric energy that just makes you gravitate toward a bottle,” says Bernheimer.

Chatillon is the former sommelier at Le Châteaubriand in Paris, where he worked for seven years after apprenticing with lauded natural wine producer René Mosse in the Loire. (Chatillon also owns Le Cave, a wine shop between Le Châteaubriand and its sister wine bar, Le Dauphin.) Always with the plan to make wine in mind, in 2016 he went south and established Ad Vinum in Tavel, an appellation known for its richly hued wines that ride a line between red and rosé. In fact, says Bernheimer, “I would call Tavel the OG chillable red.”

Chatillon was attracted to Tavel for its broad range of grapes, including grenache, cinsault, syrah, mourvèdre and clairette. But rather than hewing to tradition, he’s used the abundant varietals as a palette to create entirely new blends. The wines are also made from organically farmed old vines, fermented with native yeast,  never fined or filtered, eschewing the use of sulfur, qualities that further distinguish Chatillon’s wines from their more commercial neighbors. His labels also buck the region’s tradition of old-school fonts and embossed bottles, ranging from abstract sketches to pop graphics to font-forward futurism.

“The wines in Tavel aren’t particularly expensive or considered to be great,” says Bernheimer. “They’re produced to be consumed in quantity and affordable as a result. It’s not a place where you get wines to contemplate, necessarily.” Ad Vinum turned the latter point on its head—both literally with its “Levat,” which is “Tavel” spelled backward, and philosophically. With Ampli, he foregrounds carignan and bourboulenc, two varietals that in Tavel are more often deployed as minor blending grapes. “He’s keeping tradition alive, but making it relevant to contemporary audiences,” which Bernheimer thinks is the appeal not only of Ad Vinum, but the natural movement in general. “Traditional art has become the hobby of billionaires. We have to find our art in different ways now.”

Ad Vinum Ampli 2018

Made by: Sébastien Chatillon
Region: Tavel, Rhône Valley
What it tastes like: A blend of carignan and bourboulenc, the Ampli is “zippy and fresh and bright and has depth, but isn’t just a glou-glou bottle. It has a lot of substance,” says Bernheimer.
Why it matters: A “decidedly hipster wine,” Ad Vinum’s rosés are “trendy and seemingly new, but actually come from a long tradition from a very established wine region.”
Where to buy: $41 at Wine Therapy