September 28, 2010

Château de Gourgazaud

Château de Gourgazaud

Last night I took a sip of Chardonnay that knocked my socks off.

In the past, I was not, repeat not, a big fan of Chardonnay.  Too much butter, too much vanilla, often too oaky.  Like licking a strip of bark slathered in butter.

Then came my Chardonnay revelation in the form of a white Burgundy that was included in the Tour de France of Wine tasting at Ô Château in Paris. 
That Chardonnay was an entirely different creature, with its bright aromas of apple and almond, and hints of pineapple, tangerine and cream.  Nothing like the over-oaked abominations from California.

So I've happily sought out bottles of white Burgundy, all the while carefully avoiding any bottle that includes the words élevé en fût de chêne*.

Wine Barrels

Then the other day, thanks to a local vigneron and her family, I learned that oak barrel aged Chardonnay can be a sublime experience.

Château de Gourgazaud, an estate nestled against a hill just outside of La Livinière, has always been one of my favorite Minervois wine producers.  When they started a blog a few years ago, I happily added it to my daily reading list.  I loved having an inside and sometimes intimate look at the life of a local winemaker.

Last month I received an email from Annick Tiburce of Château de Gourgazaud, explaining that she and her son had read Chez Loulou from time to time and would we be available to come to the Château for une dégustation apéritif in September?
I was thrilled to be invited and of course thought that it would be a large event, so you can imagine our surprise when we drove up the drive last Sunday to discover that we were the only ones there.  It was to be a private tasting with Annick, her son Quentin and his girlfriend, Aude.  (who has a great website called Resto-de-Paris)

Château de Gourgazaud

It turned out to be one of those perfect afternoons - one that we will always remember.
It was spent on a sunny terrace discussing history, travel, food and politics, sharing stories, eating, and tasting exquisite wine with three of the warmest, most interesting people we've met in a very long time.
Yes, truly a perfect afternoon.

Château de Gourgazaud

Château de Gourgazaud

Château de Gourgazaud

 So, back to that Chardonnay...

It wasn't élevé en fût de chêne, rather élevé en barrique** for 3 months, which meant that instead of slapping the grapes upside the head with too much oak, the giant barrels impart subtle hints of oak that blend beautifully with the citrus and honey flavors. 

I think Château de Gourgazaud's Chardonnay is divine.  And when you see the passion that this family has for winemaking, that's no surprise.

*aged in oak barrels
**aged in 225-liter oak barrels Pin It
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