Trip conclusion!

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Wednesday we took a trip to Cantarelles to taste their wines, and the wines of Mas Carlot, Mas des Bressades, Boudinaud, and Grande Cassagne. There are several wines from these domaines that are generally favorites of mine, including a couple of 2009 reds from Carlot, which I actually helped make during my harvest internship. Not only was it an excellent tasting overall, but for a carnivore like me, the sight of 3 lambs being roasted whole over an open fire for lunch will always make me smile.

The 2008 and 2009 Mas des Bressades Cab-Syrahs were particular standouts for me in this tasting.

We had a free night in Nimes, and departed Thursday morning for a long drive to Gascony. This was another point where the extensive driving on a trip like this is particularly educational with respect to helping one understand the difference in soil type, landscape, and climate in each of these growing areas. We saw the relative similarity of climate, but difference of landscape between the Loire valley and Burgundy. Then, leaving Burgundy, we saw how remarkably close together the southernmost reaches of Burgundy and the northernmost parts of the Rhone actually are to one another. Traveling from Condrieu to the southern Rhone, we saw the change in soil type from north to south, as well as the remarkable similarity in terroir between many of the vineyards of the Cotes du Rhone/Chateauneuf du Pape and the less well-known neighboring region of the Costieres de Nimes.

And finally, after over 5 hours’ drive from Nimes, we spent our last night in Gascony, in the village of Montreal. This area is higher in elevation, and further removed from any maritime influence than anyplace else we’ve visited. The area is more well known for Armagnac than it is for wine, and the majority of vines are white. We were hosted for tasting by the Grassa family, the largest producer in the importer’s portfolio, with over 900 Hectares of vines. Despite being so large, they are still family owned and operated, and they produce several wines which are perennial favorites in the wine shop, including Domaine de Pouy and the Tariquet wines. They also make Armagnac, making them the third spirits producer we tasted on the trip which, though we are not able to sell any of their products in our shop, was a very educational experience for me. I had previously had a hard time with fine spirits, I think mostly due to lack of exposure, and to a tendency to try to taste them the same way I taste wine. Developing a palate for Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, or any other fine spirits simply takes time. However, the smelling and tasting technique is easy to learn, and entirely different from how one tastes wine. When tasting wine, we are generally instructed to stuff our noses all the way into the glass. If you try that with spirits, you’re going to get a rather unpleasant nose full of alcohol vapors. The optimum technique is to move the glass slowly toward the nose while smelling, and stop before the alcohol becomes overwhelming. This will allow you to discern all the subtle aromatic pleasantries the spirit has to offer.

The Grassa family was extremely gracious, providing a fantastic meal in a recently renovated Gascony castle to end our voyage followed by music and dancing which, for some members of our group, lasted a bit farther into the night than may have been advisable. That, however, is a story for another time.

  1. Hi Leil,

    I’m rolling in from France on Friday, Feb 11 with the family. I’m carrying a sample of Clos Clementine 2010 and hoping you’d like to share a glass with your dad on Saturday sometime. I’d love to get you feedback.

    All the best,


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