Small, Biodynamic Les Baux-de-Provence is a Hidden Gem
Last night I opened a bottle of Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 from Les Baux-de-Provence, a small village within Provence, in the south of France. As I tasted this delicious wine, I wondered about its home and decided to do a little research. First, I learned the village got its name from the aluminium ore Bauxite, which was first discovered there in 1821 by geologist Pierre Berthier.
But before I get too far into the region, let me tell you about this wine...
Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 offers sweet plum on the nose, with a hint of juniper and is a beautiful shade of raspberry red. Blackberry jumps out on the first sip, and lavender (typical of Provence wines) is introduced as the wine opens up. It is really well balanced, with a fresh acidity, a medium bodied structure, and a long finish.
This wine is a blend of 48% Grenache, 21% Cinsault, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Mourvèdre, and you can really taste each of the varietal components. The winemakers, Luc and Lucienne Cartier, have been farming in this picturesque countryside for years, and in addition to grapes, they produce olives, fruits and vegetables. It would pair wonderfully with a French goat cheese, such as Valencay, smoky cured meats and a variety of dishes, including the peppered grilled chicken that I prepared for dinner. The pepper flavor brought out a more herbaceous quality in the wine, that made this pairing very desirable. Eric (our Wine Director) has always said that this is one of his all-time favorite under-$20 wines. I understand why. This is the kind of everyday table wine that keeps you reaching for the next sip. Even better, Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 is only $13.59 with our mix-and-match discount!
About the Region
Located in the heart of Provence, in southeast of France, Les Baux-de-Provence gained AOC status in 1995 and is located within the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence AOC. This area has become a popular tourist destination, near the well-known cities of Arles, Avignon and Nimes. The village is home to many gourmet restaurants and charming hotels.
The climate is very hot, but thankfully the vineyards are centered on the village hilltop, providing perfect exposure to the cooling and drying mistral winds. Les Baux-de-Provence is the first French AOC to require all vineyards to farm biodynamically, which has become part of the terrior’s identity. Red wine accounts for 80% of the regions wine production and the most popular grapes include: Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon often used, but can only account for 20% of a blend.
The Baux Valley is also olive-growing land and is considered the most beautiful in all of Provence. Three olive products are entitled to AOC designation – olive oil, cracked oils and black olives.
Wine Producers of Les Baux de Provence
Domaine Olivier d’Auge
Mas de la Dame
Mas Sainte Berthe
Domaine du Pas de l’Aigle
Domaine de Lauzières
Mas de Gourgonnier
Domaine de la Vallongue
Domaine de Terres Blanches