Showing posts with label Gascogne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gascogne. Show all posts

Monday, September 6, 2021

Fine Wine Gets More Portable Than Ever

A new packaging format is being introduced into the single-serving wine category.  It's new to me, at least.  The containers come from Le Grand Verre and are billed as award-winning, ethically-made single-serve bottles.  

The 6.3-ounce plastic cylinders stand about eight inches tall,  have a diameter of only a little more than an inch and are topped with a screw cap.  You could stuff a lot of those into a picnic basket or backpack.  But it's not just the convenience and quantity that impresses - so does the quality.

Le Grand Verre's entire line consists of French wine from various wine regions, like Bordeaux, Languedoc, and Provence.  The company says they curate the wines every step of the way to your glass, partnering with mostly female-led boutique estates which are organic and sustainable.

The tasting samples provided to me were made up of two reds, two rosés and a white wine.

Le Grand Verre Domaine Caylus Rosé 2020

This pink wine hails from the Pays d'Herault region of southern France, a part of the larger Languedoc-Roussillon region.  LGV partnered with Inès Andrieu of Domaine de Caylus for this organic blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache.  Andrieu took over the property from her grandfather, Henri Andrieu who was in charge since buying the property in 1963.  The Domaine Caylus rosé carries alcohol at 12.5% abv and a price tag of $25 for a 4-pack.

The nose of this pale pink wine is loaded with strawberry and tropical notes.  The mouthfeel is full and the palate is earthy.  Flavors of apple, pineapple and ripe red cherry are a delight.  The acidity is somewhat tame, but the sip is juicy and the finish is very long.

Le Grand Verre Château Val D’Arenc Rosé 2020 

Bandol is generally considered to be the top Provence region for rosé, where the pinks are spicier, more structured and more flavorful than typical rosés thanks to the use of the Mourvédre grape.  This one is a critic's darling, an organic-certified Provencal blend of 80% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache and 10% Cinsault.

The wine was produced by young, innovative winemaker Gérald Damidot, and under his leadership the estate converted to organic farming practices in 2015, bringing about an enhanced quality of the wine.  Alcohol sits at 13.5% abv and the retail is $30 for a 4-pack.

This wine is a little richer in color than a Provençal rosé, approaching the red side of pink.  The nose brings some watermelon into play with the berries and the citrus notes.  The palate shows a healthy streak of grapefruit through the melon.  Acidity is nice, and the finish is long.  This is a great rosé to pair with seafood or salads, or both.

Le Grand Verre Domaine Nadal Hainaut Red 2019 

Here is a gorgeous wine for the coming cooler weather this fall, but it takes a chill well, too - for those of us still stuck in summer.  This somewhat rustic Cabernet Sauvignon is made with organic grapes from the Domaine Nadal Hainaut estate in the Côtes Catalanes region of the Pays d'Oc IGP, which covers most of the Languedoc-Roussillon area.  The Château was built in 1826 and has belonged to the Nadal family since 1900.  Martine and Jean-Marie are currently turning over the winemaking duties to their three daughters.  This red wine's alcohol level is 13.5% abv and a 4-pack will set you back $25.

The nose and palate are both dominated by black and blue berries.  Anise aromas make an appearance as well.  The tannins are medium firm, while the acidity is quite refreshing.

Le Grand Verre Château Peyredon Red 2019 

This LGV selection comes from the Haut-Médoc Crus Bourgeois.  Laurence Dupuch of Château Peyredon Lagravette works with her husband Stephane Dupuch to produce this wine.  The fruit was picked from vines over 100 years old.  The blend was envisioned by world-famous oenologist Hubert de Bouard - winemaker and owner of Château Angelus, one of the four most prestigious Saint-Émilion estates. 

This classic Bordeaux is 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Merlot, with grapes that are sustainably farmed.  Alcohol is a restrained 13% abv and an LGV 4-pack of the canisters costs $30.

On the nose are rich blackberry, cedar, vanilla and bacon grease aromas.  The palate shows elegant dark fruit, very firm tannins and a playful acidity.  This is a wine that wants a steak next to it. 

Domaine Prataviera Sauvignon Blanc 2020

The Côtes de Gascogne region occupies France's far southwestern corner and is known primarily for the white wines produced there.  The grapes which are allowed in the region read like a list of grapes you never heard of:  Abouriou, Duras and Portugias bleu among the reds, Len de l'El, Ugni Blanc and both Mansengs - Petit and Gros - among the whites.  Of course, there are also some grapes you have heard of - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

The grapes at Domaine Prataviera have been grown under the female hand since 1960 - that's when Elisabeth Prataviera's mom took over from her father.  The Prataviera is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, has alcohol sitting low at 11% abv and sells for $20 in the 4-pack.

This SauvBlanc is lightly tinted and offers up a lovely nose of grapefruit and grass.  The citrus/mineral element outweighs the herbal, so it does not come off like a fully New World wine.  On the palate, the grapefruit really shines, with a full mouthfeel, an apricot note and a pretty good level of acidity.  I don’t drink a lot of Sauvignon Blanc, but when I do, it's usually French, and this wine is a perfect example of why. 

In a Zoom meeting to kick off the product, a couple of LGV bigwigs talked with a collection of wine writers.  Nicolas Deffrennes (LGV Founder) spoke about how he started LGV, with an eye towards presenting fine French wines in a format that made it easy for people to sample.  He also said that part of his innovation was to focus on female-owned and organic, sustainable wines.  He estimated that within the next couple of years, the plastic containers will be made from organic, plant-based plastic.

Deffrennes then threw it to Régis Fanget (Brand and Artistic Director) who talked about the inspiration for the pretty little bottles - cosmetics.  He said they wanted to present the wine in a physical manner that resembled the way perfume is sold.

Pauline Nadal (one of the daughters behind Le Grand Verre Domaine Nadal Hainaut Red 2019, a beautiful wine from Languedoc-Roussillon) spoke about all the animals they have on the property - sheep, swans, bees - and the importance of the animals being happy in the absence of chemicals, and the happiness of the vines themselves.  They don't irrigate the vines - she says her grandfather maintained that watering the vines made them "lazy."  

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Friday, December 14, 2018

Unusual White Blend From France's Southwest

France's Côtes de Gascogne region is in the southwest part of the country, in the Armagnac region, and is known as Gascony in English.  There is forest to the west, then the Atlantic Ocean; the Pyrenees Mountains, then Spain to south.  Various combinations of clay, limestone, sand and silt make up the soils.

The Gascogne wines are mostly white, with only ten percent red and ten percent rosé.  Winemakers can choose from more than 300 different grape varieties, but most common are the white Colombard, Gros Manseng, Ugni Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.  Red grapes include Tannat, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Seventy-five percent of the Gascogne wines are made for export.  Look to this region for dry, crisp, refreshing, aromatic whites.

Côtes de Gascogne, Eclat, 2017, Blanc

Domaine de Joÿ is a four-generation winery in the Armagnac region of Gascogne.  Veronique and André Gessler now have sons sons Roland and Olivier involved in the business.  The 2017 Eclat is a dry white blend that clocks in at 12% abv and sells for about ten bucks.

This lovely white wine combines the best of what, to me, are less than appealing grapes.  You get Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc in this Gascogne blend.  It shows a beautiful golden tint and smells of citrus, most notably grapefruit.  There's also some wet rock minerality along for the ride and a soapy savory note.  The palate gives a broader citrus flavor and, again, plenty of minerals.  Acidity is fresh, but not too tingly.  The finish fades fairly fast, but it's great while it lasts.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Mad About Madiran Wine

Château Peyros is the southernmost property in the Madiran region of Gascony, in France's far southwest corner.  The property's name reportedly comes from an ancient word meaning "rocky location."  That's only fair considering the large stones that were left by a previous tenant, the ice age.  Jean Jacques Lesgourgues bought and restored the estate in 1999.  The estate's clay and limestone soil contains Tannat and Cabernet Franc grapes, which are farmed sustainably.  A herd of sheep serve as lawn mowers and fertilization experts. 

The 2013 Château Peyros Vieilles Vignes wine is a blend of 80% Tannat and 20% Cabernet Franc.  The grapes came from vines between 40 and 50 years old.  The wine spent about 12 months in oak barrels - 40% new - before being bottled.  It's not only a powerful wine, as Tannat is wont to be, it's reportedly one of the healthier wines, too.  Tannat grapes apparently have lots of procyanidins, said to be good for keeping blood pressure and cholesterol low. 

The wine is imported by Baron François of New York City.  It hits 13% abv and sells for less than $20 in most places.

This dark, dark wine smells of tobacco and tar, with a blackberry backbeat.  On the palate, you've got some strong tannins - to be expected from an 80% Tannat wine - and flavors of plum made savory, as if the plum skin is included.  If you want a wine to pair with a big, fatty steak, here ya go. Decant before enjoying with a meal of substance, like beef, duck or a hearty stew.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The White Wines Of Southwestern France

The Côtes de Gascogne region is in the southwest of France, in the Armagnac region, and is known as Gascony in English. There is forest to the west, then the Atlantic Ocean; the Pyrenees Mountains, then Spain to south. Various combinations of clay, limestone, sand and silt make up the soils.

The Gascogne wines are mostly white, with only ten percent red and ten percent rosé. The white grapes are Colombard, Gros Manseng, Ugni Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.  Red grapes include Tannat, Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon. 75% of the Gascogne wines are made for export. Look here for dry, crisp, refreshing, aromatic whites.

The following wines were provided to me as samples for the purpose of this article.

Domaine San de Guilhem resides in the village of Ramouzens in the eastern portion of the Bas-Armanac region. Alain Lalanne is the fourth generation to work the soil of this land and bring forward the potential of the fruit of its vines. When his father retired in 1970, Armagnac was all they produced, a brandy distilled from wine made of the region's grapes. At that time they faced a declining demand for Armagnac and decided - along with the other growers in the region - to turn their grapes into wine rather than spirits. Lalanne was among the first in Gascogne to plant Gros Manseng, which adds a nice balance to their white wines. It is not an easy grape to coax from the ground. As Lalanne puts it, “Gros Manseng does not accommodate hot summers, the smallest hailstone ruins it. Nevertheless, what class!  Powerful in alcohol, strong in acidity, long in the mouth with persistent aromatics, it transcends the Côtes de Gascogne.”

This wine is made from the main grapes of Gascogne, 40% Colombard, 30% Gros Manseng and 30% Ugni Blanc. It is Lalanne’s main product, although he still makes a bit of Armagnac, too.

This refreshing white has a very nice nose of tropical fruit and citrus, towing minerals along behind it.  The aromas are made even lovelier by a slight floral scent.   Great minerals appear on the palate with a twist of lime and fabulous acidity.  There is a hint of oak - just a hint - and the finish has a bit of salinity on it.  It's zingy and refreshing, perfect for spring and summer sips and salads.

Domaine de Tariquet has a rich history, combining bear tamers, hairdressers, three nations, two world wars and a bad case of amnesia in their fascinating story, into which you can delve here.

Their Classic is composed of 45% Ugni Blanc, 35% Colombard, 10% Sauvignon and 10% Gros Manseng. It is imported by Robert Kacher Selections of New York. At 10.5% abv, the alcohol is very restrained, making for a very drinkable wine.

Very pale in color, the wine's fruity nose shows peach and pear along with a very savory aspect. There are plenty of minerals underneath, but an herbal overlay takes the spotlight. It tastes like I imagine wet rocks would, and features an earthy fruit flavor.

Domaine Chiroulet has weathered 150 years of such hindrances as phylloxera and World War Two, not necessarily in that order of importance. Seated on some of the highest slopes in the region, the land is named after a local word for "wind that whistles."

The white wines of Chiroulet come from the clay and limestone-rich soil with some chalky outcrops - all of which come through on the palate.

The Chiroulet Terres Blanches - the domaine' top white wine - hits 12.5% abv and is labeled as white Gascony wine - en Francais, Côtes de Gascogne IGP.  This wine is aged in tanks for eight months, with additional fullness added by the stirring of the spent yeast cells.  It is imported by Charles Neal Selections of Richmond, CA.  50% Gros Manseng, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Ugni Blanc.

This yellow-gold wine shows the classic terroir of southwest France - limestone, chalk and the essence of wet stones.  Its nose is full of this minerality, with the aroma of Meyer lemons and light oak spice filling out the profile.  On the palate comes a bracing acidity, fresh citrus fruit and that incredible minerality which begs for something from the sea - anything from the sea - but make it shellfish, please.

Domaine de Menard is a relative youngster in this group, established in 1920 by a Swiss vintner. Forty years later, his daughter expanded the operation and now a third generation is involved in growing grapes and making wine.

The 2013 Cuvée Marine is imported from the Gascogne by Paul M. Young Fine Wines. It reaches 11.5% abv and shows a beautiful, light green tint.

There is a grassy nose decorated with lemon and minerals aplenty. The very full mouthfeel shows nice acidity, a good combination. Lemon and lime zest on the palate is chock full of minerality. The wine finishes brisk and clean, with just a hint of oak. It makes me feel all summery inside. You may experience similar results.

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