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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Languedoc's AOC Pezenas Quality Wines Thrive Worldwide by Philip S. Kampe


Since the 5th century, BC, Languedoc-especially Narbonne, has been a hot spot for grapes. Other then Provence, Languedoc has the oldest planted vineyards in France.

Until the early 19th century, when phylloxera invaded and wiped out the wine industry, Languedoc had a reputation for producing high quality wine. And today, the reputation is leaning towards the production of quality wines, after an era of producing large quantities of wine from top to bottom levels. Success is due in part to outside investment, with the focus on quality.

After attending a wonderful get together with the AOC Pezenas winemakers for the launch of Terroirs & Millesimes Week in the Languedoc, the realization that something special was happening in AOC Pezenas was illustrated by an amazing assortment of wines and regional delicacies  from the AOC.

AOC Pezenas is home to numerous wineries.
My favorites include:
Chateau Abbaye de Cassan
Villa Tempora
Domaine de St Preignan
Sainte Cecile du Parc
Domaine de Fondouce
Domaine La Grange
Domaine les Aurelles
Domaine Stella Nova
Les Caves Moliere
Domaine Monplezy
Domaine du Clos Roca
Domaine de Gravanel
Domaine du Pech Rome
Domaine de la Resclauze
Domaine Allegria
Mas Gabriel
Domaine Magellan
La Fontesole
Les Vignerons du Vent Neffies
Domaine Belle Fontaine
Domaine Turner Pageot
Domaine Ribiera
Mas Belle Eaux
Villa Symposia
Domaine de Daurion
Domaine de Bayelle-Caux
Cave la Clairette d'Adissan
Mas d;Arlenques
Domaine de Nizas et Salleles

With the regions Mediterranean climate, dry summers and wet winters, the wineries have thrived due to the wide variety of grapes that they can grow. The perpetual tramontane inland wind that comes from the northwest helps the dry climate breath in the warm summer months.

The inland soil composition favors chalk, gravel and limestone, while alluvial soils dominate the coastline.

Chardonnay is one of the major white grapes used in white wine, as is Chenin Blanc, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne. There are numerous red grapes that are used in wine production: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Cinsaut and Maccabeo.

Languedoc is France’s largest wine region, with close to 500,000 acres. One out of every ten bottles sold in the world comes from Languedoc.

Isn’t it time to enjoy the riches of the Languedoc, especially the wines from AOC Pezenas?

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Legend Vintage 1929 'Maury' Tasting Has A Twist by Philip S. Kampe

                                                                                                                                                            1929 was the year of the Stock Market Crash (Thursday, October 24th), the beginning of the Great Depression, Unemployment was 15% and it was also the year, Jody and Harold Nelson were born. They are our neighbors.

When they were ten, in 1939, the Great Depression was nearly over.

Conversely, in 1929, French wine production was at the forefront and in Languedoc-Roussillion, the Grenache grape was the featured item.

During that year, the Bertrand Family produced ‘Maury’, 1929 Legend Vintage.

Only 795 bottles were produced of this16% Grenache, fortified wine.

Grenache is a red wine grape that is grown in France, Spain, Italy, the U.S. and Australia. Grenache is the French name, though the same grape is known as Garnacha in Spain and Cannonau in Sardinia, where history suggests the grape originated in the 14th century.

Grenache has always been a fascinating grape-its very versatile and dominant on its own, as well as an international grape for blending. My love of this grape escalated in 2011 when Gerard Bertrand presented the 1929 Maury at a luncheon I was invited to at Per Se in Manhattan.

Lunch had ended after sampling a half dozen wines and Gerard Bertrand quieted everybody down and said that I have a special announcement. He said, I have decided to surprise you by serving the 1929 Maury Legend Vintage with a special dessert prepared at Per Se.  I remember vividly that the spectacular dessert was a chocolate mousse combined with whisky puree and almond ice cream.

To this day, many of my dreams reenacted he pairing of the wine with the dessert.

As life has its many curves, two of our friends, both journalists, from Manhattan, share the same year of birth, 1929, as the Nelsons.

Our Manhattan friends decided to spend ten days in the Berkshires in late July and early August. They wanted to attend Tanglewood, enjoy the fresh mountain air and whatever else accompanies their annual vacation in the country.

I thought it would be a novel idea for the Nelsons to meet our friends, especially since all four were peers.

They met at our house, we cooked lunch for the group and everyone got on well. Knowing that Jody Nelson’s birthday was upcoming, our NY friend said, ‘I’ll send you a surprise in the mail. Just confirm that you were born in 1929’.  That was very thoughtful, my wife exclaimed.

Jody Nelson confirmed her birth year, as our friends went on their way.

As promised, a package arrived at the Nelsons the day before her birthday.

Hours after the package arrived, the Nelsons were in our house enjoying appetizers. We wanted to toast Jody’s upcoming birthday before departing for our surprise restaurant destination that evening.

The Nelsons rarely come empty handed when invited over. Last week they brought a bottle of aged tawny port, the week before, a 1991 Rhone bottle and this week, a box that was unopened.

They asked me to open the box and much to my surprise the same 1929 Maury Legend Vintage that I often dreamt about after sampling six years earlier at Per Se with Gerard Bertrand and this same wine writer. Was there a connection?

Harold urged us to open the bottle and reluctantly I said, ‘we won’t drink it all before we go to the restaurant. Let’s save it for the next time you come over.’ It was agreed and that brings us to today-a day after Jody Nelsons birthday.

Having been born with curiosity in my blood, I did a little homework on the wine and this is what I found out. If you go from ratings-94-96 is impressive.

The proof is in the pudding (which may go well with the 1929 Maury).

More to come….after the Nelsons return for dinner and the unveiling of the 1929 Maury Legend Vintage,,,,,,,

                                                        Harold and Jody Nelson (88)

                                                              'Make a wish Jody'