Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence Rouge 2006
We can't blame her—after spending a few bucolic afternoons at the foot of the Alpilles, amid intoxicating perfumes of pine and garrigue, this is one paradise from which we would not want to be expelled.
Since the early 1970s, Mas de Gourgonnier has cared for its vines and olive trees completely organically—and has the certification to prove it. But it's not like you need a bureaucratic piece of paper to tell you that this wine is the real deal—just one look at the vineyards and you know that nothing artificial will come between you and this bottle of Mas de Gourgonnier Rouge.
The Cartier family—Luc, Lucienne and daughter Eve—work plenty hard to keep this system running smoothly, and the quality is evident. The 2006 Rouge is a knock-out, captivating red with everything you could want: perfect balance, bottomless depth, dynamic flavor and certainly great potential for the cellar. The power of the family's Cabernet Sauvignon in 2006 is especially tantalizing, giving this blend of Cabernet, Carignane, Grenache and Syrah incredible structure and great mouthfeel.
This juicy, deliciously complex red blend combines 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Carignane, 20% old-vine Grenache and 10% Syrah. Incense blends with blackberries on the lusciously perfumed nose; wonderfully grippy tannins present a structured yet silky mouth of black cherries with a serious amount of spice. The finish is fine and lingers with notes of cassis, black pepper and the unforgettable scent of garrigue that grows wild over this extraordinary, 100% organic Provençal domaine.
"This impressively concentrated rendition of Gourgonnier – only 13% in alcohol, interestingly – is slightly rustic in its tannins but will prove exceptionally versatile at table... the wine is always matured in a mixture of tank and cask, never bottled much before the next harvest, is always distinctly recognizable as Gourgonnier, and always represents excellent value."
Yet Mas de Gourgonnier’s organic roots go back even further. Since the eighteenth century, the Cartier family has worked these fields, providing the local abbey with freshly grown fruits, vegetables and grain. It was in the 1950s when the family planted its first vines.
The rest, as it is said, is history. Here in Mouries, you’ll find a direct, unadulterated connection between the land and each bottle. The earthy aromas of flowering rosemary, wild sage and juniper and the mountain freshness of the cooling "mistral" winds are all echoed in the estate's organically raised wines.
Mas de Gourgonnier has been a North Berkeley partner for more than 25 years. In this unassuming, rugged appellation, the integrity and consistency of the family's philosophy and products mirrored our own as an importer. This is a vine-growing family that doesn't have to "sell" a natural philosophy; it's simply who they are, and who they've always been.
This purity of focus and flavor is still true today. Mas de Gourgonnier is one of the bedrock estates in southern France and certainly one that has few peers.
More than just a European vacation hotspot and rosé capital of the world, Provence, in southeastern France, is a coastal appellation producing interesting wines of all colors. The warm, breezy Mediterranean climate is ideal for grape growing and the diverse terrain and soil types allow for a variety of wine styles within the region. Adjacent to the Rhône Valley, Provence shares some characteristics with this northwestern neighbor—namely, the fierce mistral wind and the plentiful wild herbs (such as rosemary, lavender, juniper and thyme) often referred to as garrigue. The largest appellation here is Côtes de Provence, followed by Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.
Provence is internationally acclaimed for dry, refreshing, pale-hued rosé wines, which make up the vast majority of the region’s production. These are typically blends, often dominated by Mourvèdre and supplemented by Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren and other varieties.
A small amount of full-bodied, herbal white wine is made here—particularly from the Cassis appellation, of Clairette and Marsanne. Other white varieties used throughout Provence include Roussane, Sémillon, Vermentino (known locally as Rolle) and Ugni Blanc.
Perhaps the most interesting wines of the region, however, are the red wines of Bandol. Predominantly Mourvèdre, these are powerful, structured, and ageworthy wines with lush berry fruit and savory characteristics of earth and spice.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.