Monday, July 13, 2009

We Go Wine Tasting

We headed off in the direction of Limoux over the Razes, with no real itinerary decided other than to visit a winery and do some wine tasting. Several friends had offered suggestions, but not writing them down now presented some recall problems. So, we did what we knew best---wing it.

For some unknown reason, we drove in and out of Limoux, and headed out towards Fanjeaux. The roads around here are dotted with signs promoting numerous wineries. Leran to Limoux is maybe a 40 minute drive, but the landscape changes dramatically. You cross an invisible line, leaving the wheat/cattle/sunflower country and enter wine country. The microclimate that exists nurtures the growing of Blanquette, Malpere, Corbieres, Fitou, Cotes-du-Rouissillon, and Minervois just to name a few.
We chose not a glitzy sign, or well-marked road, but one with a good gut feel. Chateau-Saint-Roch. When we exited the car, we didn’t have a clue where to go or what to do. When we started out walking towards a building, the two people in the parking lot signaled us. It turned out one was the owner, Jacqueline and the other was the vineyard manager, Leo. The land has been in Jacqueline’s family for more than 400 years. It’s close to impossible for us Americans to fathom that. They have been making wine for maybe 50 to 100, depending upon our understanding of what she said. Leo started off the tour, using mainly hand signs and his wiry enthusiasm.

The “tasting room” consisted of a well-cluttered old wooden office desk and several glasses that we later determined might have been left over from the last attendees. Doug was the only one who pre-wiped his with his ever-ready bandanna. Leo grabbed a big rubber bucket as the dumping spittoon, and progressed us through their Savignon and Vignosier. To taste the Chardonnay, we climbed a steep staircase that none of us was thrilled about descending post-tasting. We noticed the wine casks were all stamped “American Oak”, and Jacqueline confirmed that French oak was too expensive.

No bright lights overhead, no bread to clear the palate, just the pure beauty of good wine. No gimics. I apologized to Jacqueline about not making an appointment and she said it wasn’t necessary. In fact, she said no one really ever stopped by. I’m sure we were all wondering how they could ever make money with that marketing strategy. We bought the three wines we tasted and added a Pinot Noir which didn’t disappoint either. These folks knew how to do it right.

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