A Wonderful Selection of Southern French Wines

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With the holidays over and winter in full swing (although depending on where you live it might not feel like it), my mind immediately dreams of island paradises and a bit of rest and relaxation. A wintry alternative to those dreams are similarly pleasing thoughts of hunkering down and cooking a hearty meal over the course of an afternoon, and having an equally rich wine to pair with it. Lucky for me, we just received an assortment of wines from the Languedoc and the southern Rhône that could make the latter become a delicious reality. Below you will find wines from the classic estate of Géraud Gauby, who has spent the last 15 or so years tending his ancient vines with biodynamic principles, also those of Jérôme Bressy at Domaine Gourt de Mautens who started making wine in 1996 when he was just 23 years old, committing himself to the organic practices implemented by his father in the 1980s. Of particular interest are the wines from Didier Barral, whose wild, pure, and powerful wines from Faugères introduced me to this region, and remain the benchmark. Buy a few to squirrel away in the cellar, as these bold wines age exceptionally well, and don’t forget to grab a few that are ready to drink now and braise some lamb this winter! Tim Gagnon

Domaine Gourt de Mautens 2001 Rasteau

Jérôme Bressy took over his father's estate in 1996 when he was just 23 years old. They farm 13 hectares of certified organic vines and even achieved biodyanamic certification with Demeter in 2008. Traditional winemaking practices are employed here, and they only release three wines each vintage: a white, a rosé, and a red. The grapes for this wine come from 30- to 100-year-old gobelet-trained vines that are grown in chalky marl soils with northwest and southwest exposures. Bright ruby with garnet edges in the  glass, it exhibits lifted red berry fruits, plum, damp earth, fresh sage, clementine zest, and sweet spice alongside that classic Rasteau funk. The palate is ripe with brambly red raspberries, more herbs, and a meaty, savory streak which last onto the finish. This would be a good match for steak, roasted capon (for the adventurous), or beef bourguignon. Tim Gagnon

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  • 1 in stock
  • $49.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
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  • $44.99

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Barral, Leon 2008 Faugeres La Valiniere

This is absolutely everything I love about Barral, and it takes me back to some of my first experiences with Faugères. A blend of Mourvèdre and Syrah from younger vines planted in schist soils with a northern exposure, it opens with a bright and vivid nose, with brambly blackberries, sour cherry, and smoke, accentuated by citrus balm and dried herbs reminiscent of rosemary and thyme. The palate is fresh and energetic with ripe red raspberry, tart red cherries, pine needles, and a hint of dried hibiscus lasting onto a lengthy finish that continues the brambly fruit, spice, and herbal motif. Truly a fascinating wine! Tim Gagnon

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  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $39.99

  • Biodynamic

Barral, Leon 2009 Faugeres La Valiniere

Compared to the 2008 which we recently tasted, the 2009 is very forward right after opening. This makes sense being from such a ripe vintage, and it's spectacular! Dark, musky, chewy dark berry fruit aromas mingle with deeper notes of allspice, smoked meat, dried herbs, and barnyard - classic Barral! A few minutes in the glass really does this wine good as higher-toned red fruits also come forward. The palate is dense and rich with decadent fruit reminiscent of plump, end-of-summer blueberries and blackberry preserves anchored by spice and smoke. This wine is in a very good place right now and would definitely drink well over the next 5 years. Tim Gagnon

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  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $69.99

  • Biodynamic
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  • 0 in stock
  • $54.99

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Gauby 2000 Cotes Catalanes Rouge Vieilles Vignes

Located in Calce, 20 kilometers from the Mediterranean in France's Roussillon region, Domaine Gauby has been one of the shining jewels in a region dominated by cooperative wine production. Though the family has worked the vines here for years, it is Gérard Gauby who steered the domain to top flight production through organic, then biodynamic farming and dedication to low-intervention winemaking. With mixed old vines, soils of sedimentary limestone and shales, and a moderating marine climate the estate has stellar raw materials from which to start. In the cellar the work is traditional: fermentation with native yeasts in unlined concrete tanks, aging mostly in tank or neutral oak, bottling without fining or filtration. And despite the region's reputation for heady wines, Gauby's maintain a good deal of freshness and age beautifully.

A blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, and Syrah, 2000 Côtes du Roussillon Village Vieilles Vignes is a wine which deftly combines boldness with elegance. Upon opening, the nose shows an intoxicating blend of strawberry, Italian plum, and hibiscus with notes of game and garrigue building with air. After an hour this is supplemented with aromas of baking spices, kirsch, and grilled meats. Flavors of black plum, earth, and wild herbs dominate on the medium-bodied warm (but certainly not hot) palate. While the tannins are fairly evolved, there remains a enough structure (and acidity) to frame the ripe fruit and lend punch to the long finish. This warming red would be sensational with rustic roasted or braised dishes such as leg of lamb or daube provençale. John McIlwain

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  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $57.99

  • Biodynamic
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  • white
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  • $54.99

  • Biodynamic

Gauby 2005 Cotes Catalanes Blanc Vieilles Vignes

One of the pleasures of working at Chambers Street Wines is the fairly regular occurrence of what I like to think of as petite epiphanies. That is to say the unexpected lesson of tasting an unfamiliar wine or perhaps more accurately, tasting a wine which confounds your prejudices. One such wine is the recently arrived 2005 Gauby Côtes Catalanes Blanc Vieilles Vignes from a recent cellar purchase. I'm embarrassed to admit the prospect of tasting an 11 year old southern white from the somewhat torrid 2005 vintage, left me with low expectations. It's remarkable what opening the bottle did to disabuse me of my prejudices. Freshly poured, the wines shows lemon and lemon curd on the nose followed by hints of peach skin and balsam needles, this expands with air to show guava, rosemary oil, and white pepper. The palate is lithe and fresh with flavors of acacia honey, roasted peach, garrigue, meyer lemon and minerals and beeswax. In terms of structure there is a cool mineral edge to this 13% abv. white which seems to have plenty of life ahead of it. What a wonderful surprise. This is truly lovely and will pair beautifully with roasted or chicken, pan-roasted scallops with lemon and capers, or better still, spicy shrimp and grits. John McIlwain

 

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  • white
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  • $54.99

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  • $89.99

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