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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Château de Nages in Costières de Nîmes

We have for some time admired the red 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.

So when we found that on our trip to southern France we would be staying within 15 miles of the winery and its vineyards, we made an appointment to visit. Michel and Tina Gassier agreed, but apologized that since they were in mid-harvest, something less than a full winery tour was to be delivered. We understood, and showed up at the appointed time.

Michel is the great grandson of Joseph Torrès, who started the winery. Michel is the wine brains. Tina, his wife, is the marketing brains and described by everyone there as the "dynamo." We found that to be the case. But instead of the shortened tasting-sans-tour we were promised, Tina took us on a "no BS" tour that started in the vineyards to walk in the Grès, the rolled pebbles on red clay, and to taste the (in this case Carignan) grapes that were about to be harvested.

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

1 comment:

  1. Rather jealous you had the chance to tour this winery. Loved their 2007 Red which I bought back in 2009,but enjoyed last month. Just went back to the store and found their 2007 reserve, which is lovely as well. Drinking it right now:)