Thursday, June 14, 2007

Vin de Pays de l'Hérault White Haute Vallée du Gassac 2005 - Daumas Gassac - (Region: Languedoc-Roussillon, sort of)

Typical from the Viognier in the blend, the nose starts out with aromas of white flowers and apricot, followed up by spicy pear and baked apple. On the palate a fresh beam of acidity ties together apple, lemon/lime and pear flavors, framed by stone and minerals. The finish is clean and crisp with citrus and mineral flavors lasting 30 seconds! 90% of this wine is composed of the following grape varietals: Viognier, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Manseng. The remaining 10% are a blend of 5 other varietals : Roussane, Rhole, petite Arvine, and petit Courbu du Bearn. The note on the website says there could also be another 10 or so varieties (read below about the “lax” wine making rules in the Languedoc-Roussillon region)

Daumas Gassac wines come from a place not well known outside the land of wines geeks (or Europeans), Languedoc-Roussillon. Unbeknownst to many people outside of France, the Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest wine region in the world. Many of its wines, however, are "non-appellation"; meaning the grapes are not necessarily all from the L-R. Gassac in fact blends so many different grapes many from other regions such as the Rhone or Provence, that most of his wines are “non-appellation”. A typical appellation would be Bordeaux or Burgundy. West of the Rhone, northwest of Provence and bordered on the south by the Mediterranean, the Languedoc lies dead center in the south of France. Many of the wines from the L-R are blended from a wide variety of grapes. The L-R rules are relatively lax, so you can grow just about any grapes that make wine in this region and blend them any way you like, unlike in other classic regions where only certain varietals are allowed and certain blending practices permitted. (i.e. Burgundy is mostly only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and are not blended with other grape varieties).

The most popular red varietals grown in the L-R are familiar grapes such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Common white varietals in the L-R are Chardonnay, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Marsanne, and Roussane. Many of the wines from this region are inexpensive because of the relative obscurity of the region to the mass markets, and make for some great deals. Gassac wines are the most respected and well known from the L-R.

Daumas is a wily old man and VERY French. Daumas is a classic old French vingeron and is very proactive in protecting and defending his and other fellow European wine making heritages. He is very “anti-new world” (i.e. Parker, California, Australia, etc.) and very anti-Bordeaux. Check out the flick Mondevino as he is one of the featured wine personalities alongside Robert Mondavi, Robert Parker and famous globe trotting Bordeaux consultant Michelle Roland. It is interesting to see how his views clash not only with the Americans but even with his fellow Frenchmen.

Politics aside, its good stuff and his red is worth checking out too. The red, or “Rouge” as it’s labeled as, is also kitchen sink blend mostly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon (80% in the 2003, 20% anything else I guess he could find or fit into the blend).

Try a right wing French wine, try a Gassac.

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