In stony and sun-drenched Rousillon, the Gauby family is producing some of the most alluring whites in southern France. From 100+ year-old Macabeu, with Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc and Chardonnay. It offers mint and honeydew aromas that extend onto the palate in a luscious creamy texture, with chalk and salt on the finish. Outstanding.
Wine Advocate, 94 Points: Composed primarily of Macabeu and the two Grenaches, Gauby’s 2007 Vieilles Vignes Blanc offers mint, hyacinth, iris, and honeydew melon aromas that deliver on their promise of luscious succulence, along with creamy texture; a starching of chalk and salt; and refreshing, ripe acidity. Flowers, citrus zest, and pronounced minerality are accompanied every step of the long finish by mouth-watering fruit. Especially easy to enjoy now, this bell-clear rendition of Vieilles Vignes white will surely lose some of its youthful exuberance and lusciousness within a year or two but offer more than compensatory complexity – and evolution of its already intriguing florality and minerality – over the subsequent 5-7 years. The 2002 is gem-like today.
Gerard Gauby (increasingly assisted by his son Lionel) continues – restlessly, experimentally, but with obvious focus – to pursue his rigorous biodynamic viticultural regimen as well as his stylistic ideals of elegance, refinement, distinctive minerality, and moderate alcohol, none of which – he demonstrates – are incompatible with ripe flavors and sheer density. (One stunningly floral and fruit-filled lot of 2008 Grenache destined for Muntada was harvested at a record-low 13.3% alcohol.) The key quality factor in stony, sun-drenched Roussillon, Gauby opines, is density of root structure sufficient to support steady vine metabolism, because shut-down or stop-start maturation under stress is what ultimately causes tannins to harden and pH and sugars to rise independently of maturation. Reds here from the last five vintages are more exciting then ever, if stylistically distinct from their more obviously robust and alcoholically-rich predecessors. Gauby has been the regional leader in white wines as well, which seem especially to benefit from the high-elevation and mixture of schistic and chalky soils around the town of Calc. A recently-acquired parcel of Grenache Gris vines planted in 1947 that he is “restoring” represents, says Gauby, the last such acreage available in his neighborhood. Propagation of cuttings will take a long time to mature to the point where they bear outstanding fruit, and he has enough old vines to keep him entirely busy and supplied. Apropos white grapes and young vines, Gauby is inter-planting Malvoisie with some of his red vines to achieve an effect similar to that conferred by the occasional blanc and gris vines that are a feature of Roussillon’s oldest remaining stands of Carignan and Grenache. Incidentally, there is an utterly alluring Gauby 2004 vendange tardive still in barrel, subtly oxidizing.