Posted by: tomciocco | January 28, 2012

COSTIERES DE NIMES: FRENCH ADDRESS, SPANISH HEART

Pretty much smack dab in the middle of the undulating Mediterranean coast of France, just a few clicks inland is the super-ancient city of Nimes. The city is still home to one of the world’s most intact Roman amphitheaters, but there are stone menhirs that pre-date this structure by over 2,500 years. And through a historical twist as torturous as the local rocky beaches, Nimes has harbored for hundreds of years, and retains to this day pronounced Spanish accent; so much so in fact that the aforementioned amphitheater is a regular host to bull fights!

When it comes to  the local grapevine complement, there are few surprises: Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan, Syrah, (and a few others) dominate. And while these varieties certainly qualify as “local” or “traditional” to the region, the first three grapes all are thought to originally hail from Spain, making their presence and use in this area all the more meaningful.

This particular cuvee` is a rather unusual-for-any-region blend of 50% Mourvedre, and 50% Syrah, though the A.O.C. regulations demand that only a minimum of 20%  of each of these two grapes be included in the overall blend. But it seems fitting that in a place like Nimes that is as much Spanish as it is French, that a wine made from Mourvedre (A.K.A. Mataro` and Monastrell) and the very Gallic king of the Northern Rhone, Syrah, arises and speaks with a bit of a Franco-Iberian patois…

The comestible foundation for this lovely little (pretty big actually!) wine was an appetizer of dates stuffed with Bleu d’Auvergne cheese and a blanched almond.  The main course Was (and still is) a southern French winter classic, and is  indeed a masterpiece of the Provencal kitchen: Daube – a long, slow, complex oven cooked beef stew with a bazillion ingredients (olives, mushrooms, anchovies, wine, salt pork, etc., etc.) that I ladled over some tagliatelle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Mas Carlot Costieres de Nimes “Les Enfants Terribles” 2010

Opaque blackish purple color. Elegant, slightly floral nose with clear notes of wet slate, smoke, and big fruit aromas of plum and mulberry, with a wonderful slightly animal funkiness underlying. The texture is rich, velvety, round, and weighty, but still quite nimble with a firm, full structure and a “salty” discrete acidity driving clean and fairly complex flavors of fig, black cherry, juniper, and touch of vanilla bean and spice. Clean, dry finish.

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