More South-of-France Offerings
and vintner Michel Duffour owns the Domaine de Saint Lannes.
We buy his Domaine Duffour wine of the Cotes de Gascogne appellation.
Duffour is truly a magician. I've visited in the winter several times,
tasted various tanks of wines and have tried to make a suitable blend of
these. But Michel's own blend is always the best.
The wine is predominantly Colombard, so it's different from the other couple
of Cotes de Gascogne whites we often have in the shop.
The 2015 has just arrived and it's Michel's usual fine work...great
aromatics, fruity and bone dry with intensity and refinement. Lots of
fresh, citrusy notes...this is a classy little wine and nobody tasting it
could imagine it carries such a nice little price tag.
Currently in stock:
DOMAINE DUFFOUR Côtes de Gascogne $8.99
The Labasse family owns the Bellgarde estate in the southwest
appellation of Jurançon.
This appellation is known primarily to supreme wine geeks as it's well
below the radar for even fairly knowledgeable French wine aficionados.
- It's a white wine appellation and it's close to Spain as you're not far
from Pamplona or San Sebastian. It's inland from Bayonne, for
Vineyards tend to be on terraced hills and the grapes in this region are a
bit unusual for most wine drinkers: Gros Manseng for the dry wines
and Petit Manseng for sweet offerings.
But they also cultivate one hectare of an obscure, forgotten variety,
Camaralet. It's said to be tricky to grow and it doesn't always
produce a bountiful crop. But when it does come to fruition, it
contributes a peachy, white flower sort of fragrance to the wine.
We have their "La Pierre Blanche" bottling of Jurançon.
This is predominantly Gros Manseng with a bit of the first pickings of
Petit Manseng and a touch of the Camaralet. The grapes are all
hand-harvested and the fermentation is done using the indigenous yeasts on
the grapes and in the cellar.
The wine is matured in wood, but the oak is so far in the background, you
might not detect it. The aromas, according to the Labasse clan,
displays coriander and menthol with sweet spices and fruit. I didn't
interpret the fragrance as that of menthol, but there's an herbal/spice
quality here with perhaps a vague suggestion of tropical fruits.
It's dry, of course. Perfect for many seafood dishes especially
white fish, roasted chicken, goat cheese, etc.
Currently in stock: BELLEGARDE JURANÇON SEC SALE
Dordogne is a wonderful region in the vast region of Aquitaine of southwest
Eleanor of Aquitaine married an heir to the English throne in the 1100's and
the region remained under British rule until the 15th century.
Well, the Brits have returned, this time in the person of Sir Charles
Martin. Monsieur Martin has 18 hectares of vineyards on the 40
hectare property in the appellation of Bergerac.
Charles describes the winery as a "terroir-based vineyard."
When you ask him what the percentages of various grapes are in particular
bottlings, he makes his best guess. The idea is that a particular
vineyard produces various varieties according to Mother Nature's bounty and
so one year the blend of his Cote Sud is 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon
Blanc...but the percentages may vary a bit according to the vintage.
Martin cultivates six varieties. The white wine vineyards are planted
predominantly with Semillon, though there's a small amount of Sauvignon
Blanc and an even smaller planting of Muscadelle. The red wines are
based on Merlot, with supporting roles played by Cabernets Sauvignon and
Charles shows off some prized vines on a cool, sunny
morning in the middle of winter.
- Amidst the La Colline vineyards is this curious
Meanwhile, down the road at the vinification facility, you'll find tanks
with curious stickers on them. Charles tastes each tank and ascribes
a pet name to each.
We're not sure what to make of this tank.
Frank & Forest Gump...Bombay Mix...Picasso...Chewing Gum...
Sounds like quite a wine.
I think he meant "Bob Dylan," unless the name of his car
mechanic is Monsieur Dillon?
I'm hoping this is a tank of white wine.
Spelling is not Charles' forte. Happily, winemaking is.
There is another cellar with barrels for maturing the various wood-aged
wines. After having a taste of various tanks of newly-fermented
wines, we visited the other cellar.
Charles Martin tasting with various American celebrities.
In the middle is Jeff Berlin, inventor of Rogaine. On the right is
Charles Neal, a contestant in Dancing with The Stars.
I found more curiously-named lots of wines in the barrel cellar.
Finally! A barrel with the name of a particular vineyard!!!
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Charles and
his lovely wife Gerrita.
The white wines produced at this estate are terrific. We sell a fair bit
of La Colline's white as it's a terrific expression of the Sémillon grape.
Gerrita planned an interesting main plate for us...ostrich!
How about this?
A molded serving of polenta with a small branch onto which the ostrich pieces
were skewered...then poked into the middle of the polenta and surrounded by
beans! This was delicious with the La Colline red wines.
We had three wines from this estate...
The 2006 Bergerac Blanc is about 90% Sémillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc.
This is a mildly minerally white wine with a hint of smokiness. It
features the estate's best blocks of Sémillon. I gave a bottle to a local
winemaker who is located in California's Livermore Valley, an area once famed
for its Semillon. Perhaps it will, one day, again be famous for this
variety thanks to the wonderful work of Charles Martin in France's Bergerac
2006 Bergerac Rouge is a lovely expression of Merlot. It displays nice
red fruit notes and is a plump, round, well-balanced wine. Though it may
cellar nicely for a few years, we view this as an immediately drinkable
bottle. Pair it with white meats or red...What a delicious wine. And
it's a "best buy" in our book.
Since Charles has a rooster as his logo, we've
dubbed his delicious sweet dessert wine, "Confit de la Colline" as
"Coq-A-Doodle-Doux." It's predominantly Sémillon with about 15%
Muscadelle. The wine easily rivals most any of our Sauternes in the shop,
save for Château d'Yquem.
So, yes...we're big fans of these wines.
UPDATE: Charles and Gerrita
were divorced some years ago...and he's routinely found selling the wines to be
more challenging than making them. As a result, he closed the winery
and moved back to the UK. :(
Currently in stock: 2006 Bergerac Blanc
2006 Bergerac Rouge Sold Out
2003 Confit de la Colline Sold Out
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