French wine: Montpeyroux

26 04 2008

Imagine if you would a small rural town deep in the heart of France. The road from the highway winds its way to the village, which is set on the crown of a small hill. The houses lining the street are made of stone and look as though they have been here forever. The people bustle by, headed to the market with empty baskets, or coming back with a treasure trove of fresh produce, flowers, poultry, wine, everything that makes life good and livable, the riches of the land to share with a hungry family at home at the family table.

Looking north from the village there are the Massif mountains, and between the village and the mountains are vines-acres and acres of vineyards. Among those vineyards are the vignerons, artisans of untold worth, toiling away in the hot Mediterranean sun, pruning their vines and checking their grapes. They are like artists stretching their canvas and preparing pigments for their paints. Each plot of land is chosen for its soil. Each vine is patiently tended. The earth collects beneath the fingernails of someone deeply connected to the land, the seasons, the passage of time. When autumn comes, they will harvest the grapes, pull them from the stems and crush them, releasing the sweet nectar held within each globe, patiently waiting to be transformed by the artist’s hand. The vigneron will carefully paint their first strokes on their canvas, some bold passes of the brush leaving behind the framework for the art to follow. Every detail is lovingly tended to, patiently addressed by the grower of wine.

For truly, here is not some mechanical production of vinified grapes, not some harsh approach to one of the most delicate balances between art and science. Here are those few who continue to grow wine with their own hands, by their own toil. The families here, from one generation to the next, work to produce what can only be called one of the greatest wines in the world. The vignerons of Montpeyroux produce one of the best wines in all the Coteaux du Languedoc. Its base of Grenache and Syrah, often with Mourvedre and Carignan, adds complex levels to the wine. These winegrowers build a wine inspired by the past, with hundreds of years of experimentation and learning before them, producing robust wines that can stand up to hearty fare, with acids and tannins that add to the quality of the wine and the food. But the people who make Montpeyroux wine also appreciate the heralded future of wine: big berry and rich fruit flavors and aromas.

Pour some out of the bottle and stare at the mesmerizing ruby color of the liquid. Smell the wonderful scents of raspberries and roasted fruits along with clove and laurel, bits of lavender or mint. Every time you raise the glass, a new scent introduces itself gently to your senses. Then the flavor, with the richness and breadth of the liquid on your palate, a bit of soft fruit and spices and herbs, followed by a soft, delicate finish that lingers and invites you to come back for another sip.

Wine from Burgundy is beautiful, but can be rather one-dimensional. It is a versatile wine in the sense that it can pair with many dishes, but the qualities of the wine really are quite similar. Bordeaux has long been heralded as the most amazing source of wine, but the best bottles often require years of careful cellaring before they reach an enjoyable state. Even then, despite a variety of grapes, Bordeaux all too often has the same flavors over and over again.

What is amazing about Montpeyroux, is that each glass of each bottle is its own adventure. Not to imply a lack of consistency, but rather that there is something truly beautiful about the wine here. It’s wild and untamed, and all the more amazing and delicious because of those qualities. Drinking a great Bordeaux or Burgundy can be like watching a tiger in the zoo. The animal is beautiful, powerful, amazing and mesmerizing, but in the wild, the same creature is somehow magnificent, feral, terrible and great all at once. By stepping away from the borders wherein we all feel so comfortable, by taking the bars away from the tiger’s cage, we can truly experience the wild side of wine. True, it takes an adventurous heart to venture into unknown territory, but like the quiet meal at home with family, the rewards that lie waiting in the wild are some of the things that make life worth living.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: