Posted by: tomciocco | April 2, 2011

BEFORE THERE WAS BORDEAUX, THERE WAS GAILLAC

Whether it was first planted by Romans in the 1st century AD, or as some contend, even before by Gaulish people, Gaillac was the first great wine region in greater southwest France. This vine-rich region yields more vigorous and virile wines than the long reigning king of the southwest Bordeaux, due to hotter summers and colder winters.  And for my palate, Gaillac’s two native red vine varieties, Duras and Braucol (AKA Fer Servadou), give no ground at all to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in terms of weight or structure, if not in terms of downright nobility. And in fact, throughout a thick slice of the Middle Ages, Gaillac was the “it” wine of the southwest…

But…because Gaillac, up the Garonne river, relied upon the Bordelaise merchants down the Garonne on the Gironde, to ship their wines abroad, over time Gaillac’s products became subject to a good old fashioned thumb on the scale by these same merchants who began imposing excessive tarrifs on their wines and slowly, but ultimately permanently, marginalized them.

There is, at least for us, a bright silver lining to this historical economic strangulation – the tough descendents of those original Romano-Celtic vignerons in Gaillac still make the same robust and particular wines that they always did at a very small fraction of the now astronomically priced wines from its old rival Bordeaux…

I served this heady wine with a roasted gratin of leeks, and then mackerel filets marinated in red wine, and then liberally dusted with a homemade herb/breadcrumb/garlic mixture, and fennel roasted with butter and tarragon on the side.

Domaine des Terrisses Gaillac Rouge 2008

Deep, intense, and saturated blackish purple color. Slightly smokey, minerally, black raspberry fruit adds notes of dried leaves and red flowers, mushrooms, and brown spices. The full body is round with an underlying richness that is nicely balanced by lively, spikey acids, and a stiff, edgy tannic structure. The texture is tightly knit and chewy, with bold flavors of blackberry and prune plum, blood, and olive. The finish is powerful and lingering. A full throttle red that achieves its power with a natural grace.

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