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/Mourvèdre 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 Mourvèdre grape vines. What a knockout!
But, on to dinner…..the real reason for choosing this venue.
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/Mourvèdre 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
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”.