Réserve from Château de Nages. A Syrah and Grenache blend from the Rhône, it is a superb bargain at less than $10. It's white sister, made from Grenache Blanc and Roussanne, is also a very good bargain.
We have been on a lot of winery tours, but this apologetically shortened tour was our best yet. (Unlike the U.S., where it is typically OK to just show up at a winery, in Europe the custom is to call ahead or arrange your visit beforehand.)
As we noted earlier, this 2011 harvest is a puzzling one, and we saw that in the overripe seeds swaddled in under-ripe meat and skins.
Back in the winery, we toured the wine storage tanks as well as a carbon dioxide filled room of viognier filled oak barrels that left us all woozy. Deep inside the winery bowels, a small room of glass vessels and implements serves as Michel's chemistry lab, next door to the room that holds the framed photograph of JT, Joseph Torrès and the three bottles of wine that Michel seeks to emulate: a Chateauneuf du Papes from the other side of the Rhône, a German Riesling and a Burgundy from La Tâche.
Michel and Tina believe that their Mediterranean terroir should speak loudly in their wines; that "we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children;" and that since turning to organic farming, their grapes and wine are better than they have ever been.
After all of the touring and answering some questions from us, Tina turned us over to a lovely woman who led us through Michel's lines of wine. The Réserve is more of an entry to the line, which rises in quality through the Chateau de Nages Vieilles Vignes, the Château de Nages JT (for great grandpa Joseph Torrès), the Nostre Païs, and the chin-out aggressive Lou Coucardié.
Michel is one to watch, because he's always thinking, always inventing, but always letting his land and his grapes speak loudly.
The winery's website is michelgassier.com.