This wine is an absolute benchmark of the Pét-Nat genre, which makes sense when you understand the history behind it. Gaillac has a history of producing méthode ancestrale sparkling wine that goes back to the middle ages - long before Champagne began producing sparkling wines. This example is from Gaillac's pioneering Plageoles family and it's made from the exceptionally rare Mauzac Rose grape variety, one of the indigenous grapes that has been used to produce sparkling wines in Gaillac for centuries. In simple terms, the wine is put into bottle before it has fermented dry and it is the continued fermentation under cork that gives the wine its bubbles. There are no other additions and no need for dosage, as it is the natural residual sugar that produces the bubbles. It's a cracking, lip-smacking, off-dry wine that is both fragrant and textural, with citrus oil, apple and hazelnut notes. There's a beautiful, tangy close balanced by a kiss of natural sweetness. Slightly cloudy and with a gentle bubble, it's as good a Pét-Nat as we've come across. - Importer Note
Appearances can be deceiving. The unique wines of the Plageoles family may seem to be just one of many curios on the market these days; in fact, they are a striking reminder of the wonders of the Gaillac terroir and of why this region was once so famous.
Viticultural Gaillac is a horseshoe arc of land high above the Tarn river in southwest France (northeast of Toulouse). Though relatively close to Bordeaux, few people outside of the southwest of France know this region's wines well. It was the Phoenicians, then the Romans who first planted vines in the Gaillac region. Vines here predate Bordeaux, and like Cahors, Madiran and other wine regions in southwestern France, it might have achieved the same fame had it not been for a quirk of historical fate. If only those shifty Bordelaise on the Garonne river had not first expropriated the wine of this region (by blending it with their own) and later taxed it to death before it went through their port. Then Phylloxera came to town, which pretty much delivered the coup de grâce to Gaillac.
Today's Gaillac is many things to many people. To the wine buyers from British supermarkets it's simply a cheap, inoffensive refreshing, fruity white or rosé from the local Mauzac Blanc or Gris. In France, outside Gaillac, it's a robust, aromatic red made from a blend of local and interloper varieties to wash down a simple plat de jour; to the esoteric sommelier, it might be the source of some compelling regional oddities and yet for Robert and Bernard Plageoles, and now Bernard's sons Florent and Romain, it's a fanatical, lifelong passion. Robert Plageoles (father of current patriarch, Bernard) also seems to be many things to many people. To wine lovers, he is the most famous and widely admired grower in Gaillac, to the Gaillac faithful he is an iconoclastic ampelographer (an expert in the identification and classification of grape varieties), who has been almost solely responsible for resuscitating many of Gaillac's indigenous, almost extinct grape varieties. To the Gaillac AOC committee, he is probably viewed as a hopeless anachronism or wine outlaw!
No matter, the Plageoles' have managed to recapture some of the historic recognition that Gaillac wines had in the past by producing outstanding wines and through their work of bringing many of their region's distinctive grape varieties back from oblivion. Robert researched and replanted over a dozen varietals (seven in the Mauzac family alone) indigenous to Gaillac that had all but vanished ‚– for example grafting and growing Prunelart (for red wine), seven variations of the Mauzac grape (Roux, Vert, Jaune, Noir, Melon, Gris and Rosé), and Verdanel and Ondenc (for whites), and in doing so, is responsible for bringing these rare varieties into the 21st century (some Ondenc has of course also survived in Australia). Robert's son, Bernard, took over Domaine Plageoles around ten years ago and now, along with his sons, is taking this Domaine to yet another level. All of the Plageoles' share an obsession for the Gaillac region, its native grape varieties, organic viticulture and low-tech, natural-yeast winemaking. Rather than blend their wines, they choose to bottle each wine as a single variety, putting them at odds with the AOC, but also allowing them to market the distinctiveness of the Gaillac grape varieties. Most of the wines are therefore bottled under the Vin de Pays des Côtes du Tarn AOC. - Importer Note
|Product Type||Wine Sparkling Imported Non Champagne|