Jun 062008
 

Russ at Hostellerie Berard

 

Why would someone that has a love affair with
Texas go to southern France (particularly with
the exchange rate situation)? 

 

Simply put….to experience things Mediterranean
and “wine culture”, first hand. Well, guess what? 
This region of France appears to offer many
things that we have right here in Texas.
Provence, Bandol and Gigondas have their arid
hills festooned with limestone outcroppings,
while crape myrtles, sycamores and even palm
trees adorn city streets.  Even the tall weeds
that grow in the creek and the dry vegetation
by the roadside are what you see during a car
ride across Texas.

 

But, I have to come clean on my alterior motive.
It was to take Texas wines to share with the
French. Call me crazy, but in my suitcase were
two “TexMed” wines. One was a Syrah/Mouvedre
blend made by winemaker Greg Bruni at
Llano Estacado and the other L’Evier
(literally translated – “The Kitchen Sink”)
is a cuvee I received from Don Pullum at
Akashic Vineyards and consultant winemaker,
consisting of an abundance of Mediterranean
varietals – Syrah, Mouvedre, Grenache,
Sangiovese, Tempranillo, to name a few. 

 

Why did I pick these two wines? 

I feel that these wines, besides being superior
wines, present a nuclear view of future Texas
winemaking…..both are blends and lean hard on
sun-loving Mediterranean varietals.

 

Our first stop was Bandol about two hours west
of Nice on the Mediterranean coast, but with a
very hilly topography. No sooner had we left
Nice by car than the clouds opened up, making
my first French driving experience a mélange
of slippery streets, speeding cars and
unyielding mountain curves. After two hours
we saw the “Bandol” signs and pulled off the
highway, and started up a small winding hillside
road in the direction of Hostellerie Berard in
La Cadiere d’Azur. 

 

Upon being greeted by Mde. Danièle Berard, we
went to our room in the 11th century convent
and opened the shutters, to behold a
breathtaking view of a rainbow ending in a
field of Mouvedre grape vines. What a knockout! 

 

But, on to dinner…..the real reason for choosing
this venue.

 

 

 Bandol Rainbow

 

We were seated, ordered dinner, studied the wine
list and then greeted our Sommelier with our
selection –

 

Domaine Lafran Veyrolles (Bandol) 1993.

 

Then, we asked him to have our Llano Estacado
Syrah/Mouvedre opened and to give it a taste.
After a somewhat surprised look from the
Sommelier and a short explanation about Texas
wines on my part, he curiously complied.

 

His pouring, swirling, sniffing and tasting gave
way to an even more surprised look followed by
the statement…“Bonne acidité!” At which point,
he motioned to Mde. Berard at the reception and
asked her to taste with us, too. The Madam also
swirled, sniffed and sipped, then offering in
return….”Bonne terroir!”

 

These French enophiles keyed on two very important
points in French wine appreciation  – acidity
(what keeps wine fresh on the palate and
accommodating to food) and what the they call
“terroir” (the culmination of the soil, weather
and all related viticultural elements expressed
by wine in the glass).

 

The Texas wine was young both in vine and vintage
compared to the deep, aged qualities of the
Bandol that we consumed that night. But, the
unsolicited responses to our Texas wine showed
the true potential for “Texas Terroir”.

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