I’ve been lucky enough to make it to the wine regions of France at least once a year. Each year it gets more difficult to choose where I am going. Sometimes, it’s all about timing. That was the case this year when I made the decision not to go to Southwest France. Fortunately, with the help of some of the wineries there and a few of my friends, I was able to taste through the area without leaving my dining room.
This wine region is an area that doesn’t get a lot of notice. The area around Toulouse is in the Midi-Pyrénées region, the center of the southern section of France. It soil benefits from the climate of being directly between both the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans. It is also near to the border of Spain.
The wines we tasted were chosen for fall enjoyment and as good choices for Thanksgiving from Domaine Duffour, Domaine du Moulin, Chateau d’Aydie, Chateau Le Roc, Tarani ad Saint-Mont. I will leave the full point system to Wine Spectactor, but I brought in some of my wine-loving friends and asked everyone to give the wine a score up to five. I’ve included the average score from the seven of us (AVG) and my personal score (MF). All of these wines are available in the United States and are priced under $20.
Michel Duffour has been producing wines since the early 1980s in Lagraulet. This is a dry white made from grapes you don’t see often – 80% Colombard and 20% Ugni Boanc and Gros Manseng. While it is definitely a dry wine, it’s full of tropical flavors and a strong green apple, so it’ very different. AVG: 3.8; MF: 3.5
2007 Domaine du Moulin Blanc Sec
The Domain Moulin vineyards are located on two banks of Tarn, which is around the city of Gailac. This dry white wine is almost all Sauvignon, with 5% Loin de l’oeil. Both grapes come from vines that are more than 30 years old. It is very chardonnay-like, with lots of spice, yet buttery from eight months in new barrels. The creamy texture will stay with you. AVG: 3.7; MF: 4
2008 Chateau d’Aydie Madiran
Chateau d’Aydie grows Tannat on old vines in clay gravel filled soil. This has a fruity nose, but on the palate it’s very flavorful, full of both fruit and spice. Despite 18 months of oaking, this wine is not overly dry and is very drinkable as is, though the vineyard says it can be cellared for up to 10 years. AVG: 4.6; MF: 4.5
2008 Chateau Le Roc Le Classique
The Ribes family has been growing Negrette, Cabernet and Syrah for nearly 30 years just outside of Toulouse. All three grapes are blended (70% Negrette, 20% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) in this wine, which was aged in a tank for 15 months before it was bottled. The nose is cherry, like cabernet, but the flavor is much more complex, fruit forward and a little spicy. Le Classique is a bit drier than the Madiran. AVG: 4.25; MF: 3.8
2009 Tarani Malbec
Tarani has a long history of making wine in this part of France. This particular vintage is 100% Malbec and is made with malolactic fermentation. It’s also matured with wood chips for two months after a flash vacuum expansion instainless. It has a great nose with a taste to match – smooth with hints of raspberry. It’s just the way a Malbec should be, slightly sweet with a light spice on the finish. AG: 3.7; MF: 4.5
2009 Saint-Mont Beret Noir
Saint-Mont vineyards produces their grapes close to the ocean in clay-like soil around the Adour Hill. The term ‘beret noir” is distinct to this region. This blend is 70% Tannat, 15% Pinenc, 15% Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is semi-dry with a nose and palate of sweet, red fruit. It’s full-bodied and well-balanced. AVG: 4.5; MF: 4.5
The next time I have a selection of wine from the southwest of France in front of me I hope I will actually be there. In the meantime, I’m getting ready for a fall full of wine and spirits adventures.