Carole Fontanier (Communications Manager, Wines of Gaillac), Fred Dex (Master Sommelier), Yours Truly, winemaker Nicolas Hirissou (Domaine du Moulin), and winemaker Alain Cazottes (Domaine des Terrisses).
Blame it on Fred Dex, Master Sommelier - I recently spent an afternoon gleefully "geeking out on Gaillac." Fred enthusiastically describes Gaillac as "one of the geekiest wine regions in France, if not the world" for the amazing diversity of its grapes and wine styles. From international varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah to lesser-known indigenous grapes like Loin de l'Oeil and and Duras, Gaillac is an absolute paradise for wine lovers in search of authentic, honest, and expressive wines that convey a sense of place.
Located in Southwest France in the heart of the Midi-Pyrénées region, the Gaillac wine-growing region benefits from Mediterranean heat and the ocean humidity of Bordeaux. Gaillac lays claim to the oldest vineyards in Southwest France - their rich tradition of winemaking goes back 2,000 years. Gaillac wines are not cookie-cutter but do share a rugged elegance that is absolutely endearing. Although Gaillac wines are not yet a household name abroad, the secret is getting out.
Domaine des Terrisses 2014 ($15) is a delicious introduction to the Gaillac style. A blend of Loin de l'Oeil (70%), Mauzac (20%), and Sauvignon Blanc (10%), this dry white wine's lively tropical, citrus, and herbaceous flavors taste quite unique but have a tinge of familiarity. Domaine des Terrisses has been the property of the Cazottes family since 1750 and their 7 generations of experience is evident in their award-winning wines.
Alain Cazottes, Domaine des Terrisses
Domaine des Terrisses also produces a wonderful red - Grand Tradition Rouge 2014 ($15). A balanced blend of Braucol (50%), Duras (30%) and Syrah (20%), this bold wine has a rustic elegance and flavors of dark cherry, blackcurrant, and a touch of pepper. A great match with a steak or burger.
Domaine de la Chanade, Les Rials 2015 ($15) is undeniably Gaillac. Made 100% from the indigenous grape Loin de l'Oeil, this juicy dry white wine has exuberant flavors of mango, kiwi, peach, honey, and Meyer lemon with the finest hint of Mediterranean herbs. Loin de l'Oeil means far from the eye and inspired the name of this grape because it produces bunches that grow far from the bud.
Nicolas Hirissou, Domaine du Moulin
Domaine du Moulin is another impressive producer from Gaillac. The Hirissou family has been growing vines for three centuries and the winemaking tradition has passed from father to son for more than 180 years.
Domaine du Moulin Cuvée Reserve 2013 ($12) is a spicy but light and juicy blend of Duras (60%) and Syrah (40%). Duras is native to Gaillac and produces deep red wine with fine tannins and spicy, peppery flavors.
If you want to get way deep into the flavors of Gaillac, the award-winning Domaine du Moulin Cuvée Florentin 2014 ($29) is extreme Gaillac in the very best way. Nicolas describes this 100% Braucol wine as his baby. An old Gaillac grape, Braucol (also known as Fer Servadou in other regions) has distinctive flavors of blackcurrant and spice. It has commonly been used as a blending grape but Florentin showcases its power and elegance as a single varietal wine. Intense and nuanced, the flavors of Florentin open up beautifully and the winemaker recommends decanting or opening the bottle at least two hours before drinking.
Gaillac is home to more than 100 wine producers who take pride in crafting wines that honestly express the terroir and traditions of this very special appellation in Southwest France. Fred Dex is right - Gaillac's unique, affordable, and delicious wines are worth geeking out on. Give Gaillac a swirl!
To learn more, visit the Vins de Gaillac website.