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


Veronica said...

ohh, I'm envious! I love Chateau de Gourgazaud's wines too. And white burgundy, of which I get far too little :)

croquecamille said...

I agree with you 100% about the over-oaked chardonnays. Love the white Burgundies, though. And I've had some good chardonnays from the languedoc recently. I'll have to keep my eyes open for this one.

Holly Bruns said...

I am beyond green with envy. We only get a scant selection of Chateau de Gourgazaud in Canada, but I love, love, love them. I think I'll have to put a link to your post on my blog. Thanks for this. I was living vicariously through you there for a few moments.

Kate said...


Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

I have to look for this...I am not usually a fan of Chardonnay but I keep thinking that I just haven't tried the right one yet. I would love to try this one soon.
Also, LOVE your new header...the photos on your blog are always lovely!

Sharon T said...

I have an intense dislike of over oaked chardonnays as well. A friend introduced me to white burgundy and I fell in love. When I was in northern Italy I found a partially oaked chardonnay that was heaven. Unfortunately neither that wine nor Chateau de Gourgazaud are available where I live in the US :( I will definitely look for it when I come to France next year!

HamishWM said...

Many richer Chardonnays are no problem when linked to appropriate food. However even the big chunky oaky styles need acidity to hold them up. The best wines have the best balance and freshness. They can be at all ends of the spectrum.
Chateau Gourgazaud are producing excellent wines. Do you know where the unusual name came from?

Nick said...

Most interesting! Thanks for the post - I will be on the look out for this wine. Cheers!

Mr Q said...

Many thanks for this great article !
We had a great time and really enjoyed meeting you.

To AmishVM : Gourgazaud is Patois Occitan, a language not used anymore specific to the region.
We can explain this word by dividing it :
"Gorg" means still water (small lake) and "Gaso" is a place where you can cross a river.

Next to gourgazaud there is a small river named in patois "la Rec de Sang" that river divides two regions Aude and Herault Gourgazaud was built on this land that named it.

Chez Loulou said...

I don't get white Burgundy very often either. Must do something about that...

Let me know if you find it. They also have a delicious Chardonnay that isn't aged in barrique.

Thanks for the link! Glad you are able to find their wine in Canada. I'll be on the look out for it the next time I'm in the States. My dad and sister would love their wines.

Make sure Mitch gets posted in Europe and we'll go wine tasting together!

Hope you find won't be disappointed (I hope!) :)
I appreciate your nice comment!

Chez Loulou said...

Isn't white Burgundy amazing? Especially after spending years thinking that all Chardonnay is like oaky California Chardonnay.
I wonder if it is available online somewhere? I would like to order some for my family in the States.
Please let me know if you find it.

Very true...
I remember buying Rombauer and Grgich Hills from Napa/Sonoma and they are very big Chardonnays! Maybe I wasn't enjoying them with the right meal?
The answer to your question follows from Mr Q.

Chez Loulou said...

You're most welcome!

Mr Q
Many thanks to you and your mother again. We hope to see you again soon, either here or in Paris.
Am really enjoying reading Aude's restaurant reviews!

Samantha Vérant said...

The real question is: do you drink "French" glasses of wine, two fingers from the bottom? Or American, two, okay, one finger from the top? Hi, I'm new here ***waves*** I just moved to the Toulouse area last year and I stumbled upon your blog...

Annick said...

Thank's a lot Loulou for your very kind commentary about Château de Gourgazaud Chardonnay.
See you soon and hope all your blogger friends at Gourgazaud for a tasting.

Chez Loulou said...

I try to drink French glasses. You?

It wasn't only the Chardonnay that we loved. La Vigne de ma Mère is a new favorite.
Thank you again for such a wonderful afternoon. I hope the vendange is going well and we hope to see you in November.

fromBAtoParis said...

Great post and lovely experience....for us too! Thanks!!

Chez Loulou said...

From BA to Paris
Glad you enjoyed it. :)

Valerie said...

A rare moment to enjoy your blog once again.... what are you referring to with "Aude Restaurant Reviews" ???

Chez Loulou said...

I'm sure you're ready to have more than a moment to relax! Soon...
Aude is one of the three people we had our tasting with. She has the website,

emiglia said...

Sorry I missed you when you came to O Chateau! I intern there and absolutely love it.

Chez Loulou said...

I'm sorry I missed you too! Olivier seems like a great guy to work with. What are you doing now?