Aubrey Stout (Aubrey is a talented wine specialist at Imbibe Chattanooga).
Mary Taylor Gauillac Perlé Blanc - Mary Taylor fell in love with wine in the early 90s selling French and Italian wine in New York City auctions.
She was particularly captivated by European wine's emphasis on wine as an affordable everyday luxury, and by its focus on terroir. On her website she writes, "Although impossible to translate literally, this concept of “terroir” has sometimes been described as a “sense of place,” or “somewhere-ness.” It explains why the Pinot Noir from one village in Burgundy will taste noticeably different from the same grape grown in the next town, or even the next vineyard over.
It’s also the reason why most European wine regions label their wines not according to the grape variety, but the “place name,” or “appellation” where it was grown. Whether known in French as appellation d’origine protégée, in Spanish as denominación de origen, or in Italian as denominazione di origine controllata, the basic idea is the same: each designated area imparts its own special identity, no two expressions alike.
She recognizes that this way of labeling and thinking about wine is foreign and occasionally intimidating to US wine drinkers. After all, most of us didn't grow up in Burgundy, and we haven't all taken wine tours of France. Wine cultivation is several hundred years old in North America, not several thousand. We imported European grapes and started experimenting to see where they grow best. Europe has a several thousand-year headstart on us in these terroir experiments! Often European wine labels don't include grape names on their labels, because place is so much more important and established than grape names as a way to describe wine, and the grapes used are implicit in the place name. Mary Taylor wanted to decode this for the American wine drinker. So while still honoring the European appellation system, she developed a simple, classic white label for all her wines. The front label denotes appellation name, while the back label includes the grapes and a little tasting note about each wine.
She started out importing French wines, which still comprise the bulk of her small portfolio, but she's gradually added Italy, Spain, and Portugal to her roster. This month we'll take a deep dive into her French offerings, starting with this white blend from Gaillac, both a town and appellation in southwest France near Toulouse with a history of winemaking going back two thousand years. Gaillac is the 2nd oldest known vineyard area in France. Natalie Larroque and her family live at the farm known as Mas d’Oustry built in 1498. They farm organically and biodynamically and use very little sulfur in their wines. This blanc Perlé is made from 80% Mauzac and 20% Muscadelle – two grapes typical to the Southwest of France. The word “Perlé” indicates a slight bite – tiny bubbles in the wine. It has a rich, full body typical with the warm climate of this ancient region, with a honeyed richness and golden apple flavor delicious with roast chicken or a twist on cassoulet. Mary says of this wine, "A rich honeyed wine with a tickle. Pairs gloriously with rich and spicy food or as an aperitif."
6. Mary Taylor Costieres du Nimes - I'm going to let Mary tell you about this wine. She waxes so poetic! I hope you're transported to the south of France reading about (and drinking!) this lovely rustic red.
If you could bottle all the romance of summer in the south of France—the dazzling sunlight of a Cezanne painting and the warm sea breeze blowing through hillsides of lavender and thyme—you’d wind up with something a bit like Pierre Vidal’s beautiful expression of the Costières de Nimes appellation, a little-known sub-region at the southernmost edge of the Rhône valley with a history of wine-production that dates back to the ancient Greeks. An untamed wild streak runs throughout all of Pierre’s wines, which practically sing of their place of origin. A typical blend of 60% Grenache with roughly equal parts of the Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes, it’s a fleshy but elegant wine, with an enveloping core of spicy dark berries and a firm grip of tannins. But beyond the fruit, it’s the expression of the soil that gives his wine its true identity. First, there’s a whiff of what the locals call “garrigue,” the combination of brushy herbs and botanicals that grow wild in the region by the side of the road. On the finish, the wine displays a deep-veined minerality, suggesting the flinty pebbles (called grés) that litter Pierre’s vineyards. The Platonic ideal of a “food wine,” this big-boned red is best appreciated with rich and hearty dishes. Perfect with grilled lamb kabobs, it’s equally comfortable washing down a hot slice of pepperoni pizza as it is accompanying a perfectly medium-rare filet at your next dinner party.
“If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.”
― Mark Twain