PICTURED: Trois le Fou winery offers tastings in Ventura. Photo submitted
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
Trois Le Fou Winery
4522 Market St., Suite B, Ventura
How do you make a million dollars in the wine industry? Start with $10 million.
So the old saying goes — for good reason. While many a wine connoisseur has been seduced by the allure of the vintner’s lifestyle, none have found the reality to be as smooth or rich as their favorite vintage.
That didn’t deter three men — Paul Douville, Tim Germaine and Alan Wharton — from rushing in where angels fear to tread. Hence, the name of Ventura’s latest boutique wine venture, Trois le Fou.
“Our name loosely translates to the three lunatics or fools, as most people know that starting a winery is for the insane,” the business states proudly on its website. Crazy like a fox, perhaps: Trois le Fou offers some true gems that lovers of Bordeaux and Rhone styles should definitely check out.
I met the very personable Douville for a weekend tasting, which included pours of several 2019 vintages (Trois le Fou’s first major release) but started with a 2021 grenache rosé. A beautiful rose gold in the glass with a floral perfume, it was crisp and fresh, with notes of grass, white flowers and a hint of melon. The perfect pour for a hot summer day.
The medium-bodied Follee Cuvée (a blend of equal parts cab and merlot) was all red fruit and a touch of tobacco in the nose. I liked the flavors of oak, cherry and pepper, but found it to be a bit rough — although it definitely perked up after sitting in the glass a bit, and I think serving it with food (sharp cheese or pizza, perhaps) would tame that edge. I wasn’t as fond of the other blend, a super-dry GSM (grenache, syrah, mourvèdre) with an abrupt finish; it might need a few more years to reach its full potential.
The cabernet sauvignon (tempered by 10% merlot) had the most wonderful fragrance, with ample earth and a touch of smoke, and struck me as a solid everyday drinker. But the mourvèdre was a complete surprise. Usually regarded as a blending wine, it was definitely on the dry, bitey side, but it was quite complex up front with berries and spice. Trois le Fou recommends this one for barbecue and steak, which sounds about right — but I’d be tempted to let it sit for a good three years to see how it develops.
My overall favorite was the petite sirah, another pleasant surprise whose inky color and robust legs belied a bright and festive wine with tangy pomegranate, mouthwatering chocolate and piquant chile. Yum!
The space on Market Street is humble, doubling as a barrel and tasting room . . . although the owners hope to expand at some point. In the meantime, these small-batch wines (all under 100 cases; most under 50) can be ordered online. Even better: Book a weekend tasting appointment and learn what these “fools” are all about. There may be some madness to their method, but it’s hard to argue with the results.