Wines from the Southwest Region of France

| September 13, 2012

How cool is it that the European Union provides funding to different wine regions in France to send representatives over to the USA to meet and schmooze with distributors, merchants and wine writers? A small private dinner was held last week in Santa Monica and it is here that I sampled some of the inexpensive and in some cases excellent wines coming from the region that is centered in Toulouse.

Juice Man Fred Dexheimer from New York hosted the tasting and the Master Sommelier happens to be the spokesperson for the South West Wines of France Council, which lets face it, is a pretty cool gig to have. The region has suffered at the hands of the Burgundy wines with distribution issues for many years, but now it is coming into its own.

The Tannat and Malbec grapes have gained international acclaim, but the ones that only grow in the SW region are also gaining recognition including Negrette, Braucol, Petit Manseng and Colombard. There are 112,000 acres in this region, and all the wines produced cost in the $8 to $20 range retail.

The production range between red and white is exactly at 50% each and all the wines are food friendly. With around 5,000 winemakers in the area, the selection of wines is extremely diverse, with the prime regions being Madiran, Saint-Mont, Fronton, Gaillac, Irouleguy, Gascogne and Cahors.

I loved the freshness of the 2010 Colombelle Blanc Sec and this pale yellow, fresh and fruity youngster is a ridiculous value at $10. The grape breakdown is 80% Colombard and 20% Sauvignon et Ugni Blanc, and the vibrant wine has a crisp citrus finish with a hint of white peach, pineapple and fresh almonds.

Almost as good was the Domaine du Moulin 2007 which is a dry white made up of 95% Sauvignon grapes (35 year old vines) and 5% loin de l’oeil (30 year old vines). This wine is fermented for nine months in new wood barrels, producing a creamy taste along with apricots and nuts.

A red wine to search out at $12.99 would be the Chateau Le Roc Classique 2008 produced close to Toulouse by the Ribes family with a grape make-up of 70% Negrette, 20% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfect for white meats, the prevalent flavors include peony, liquorice and violet. It is aged in a tank for 15 months, bottled and stored for up to three years.

The carefully selected food pairings for this particular tasting were Wild Mushroom and Gruyere Quiche. Endive and Watercress Salad, Lacquered Duck Breast, Braised Beef Short Ribs, Chef’s Cheese Selection and Chocolate Walnut Torte.

These wines are meant to be enjoyed while they are young and a prime example would be Les Gravels Rouge 2008 from Domaine Rotier. The cool nights of the region preserve the grapes acidity and the make up is 40% Duress, 25% Braucol and 35% Syrah, and this robust wine is juicy enough to be compared with Beaujolais.

Check out the web site for all the information about these wines and for those of you interested in the Tannat grape then try the 2008 Chateau Aydie from Madiran that is all Tannat. The oak aging produces a taste of vanilla, spice and coffee, and the wine can be cellared for up to 10 years, but if you drink it young it must be decanted 1 hour before tasting.

Filed in: Vino Files