Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gaillac Displays Special Qualities

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gaillac Displays Special Qualities

Article excerpt

Byline: By Helen Savage

Gaillac is learning to be different. Its vineyards along the Tarn Valley in south west France were first planted by the Romans and it's a land of proud traditions as well as of generous people.

And it's by building upon that long tradition that it is daring to set a sound platform for the future success, for there are grapes grown there that thrive nowhere else and wines that taste like no others.

Gaillac is a crossroads in more than one sense. Its splendid climate (last week apart when cold rain poured down just for me) is a unique mix of Atlantic, Mediterranean and Continental influences.

Its vignerons can grow grapes suited to all three and make almost every style of wine imaginable. It's almost too easy. But that's why they now have to make hard choices and leave others to grow Gamay, Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc.

In a fiercely competitive market their future lies doing what only they can do ( and make the most of their special red varieties Duras and Braucol (sometimes called Fer Servadou) and the local white varieties Loin de l'Oeil and Mauzac.

And the best wines, almost all from these four grapes, are making top UK critics sit up and take notice.

What I admire so much about Emmanuel Maugeais's Cuve Pourpre, a blend mostly of Duras with a little Syrah, is that it's packed with almost crunchily ripe black fruit, but isn't overblown or headily alcoholic.

The same is true of his Grand Cuve which features mostly Braucol with a little Duras, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It's lusciously ripe and soft, but isn't over-extracted. Even his superbly concentrated Grand Terroir, his top red which balances Duras and Braucol follows the same pattern.

Part of the secret, Emmanuel insists, is to pick the grapes at exactly the right moment. "As soon as the pips taste ripe you have just six to 12 hours to complete the harvest, otherwise the wine will be heavy and jammy."

Emmanuel says that the flavour of Duras and Braucol can be somewhat "rustic," especially when yields are too high. With his wife Sigolne and their five children he took over Domaine de Gineste in 2000. …

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