Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Graves de Vayres

I think if I had it all to do over again, I would be a geologist.  At least I seem to find an undue fascination in that aspect of my research here at the blogspot and Graves de Vayres is the most recent place that fascinates me geologically.  Last Friday we tasted four wines from Chateau Cantelaudette which rightly features its place name prominantly on its front label so with my natural inclination toward historical research along with my new found interest in geology, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump into this diversion.

Graves de Vayres is a small appellation in the Entre-Deux-Mer region of southern Bordeaux.  Entre-Deux-Mer is the huge wine laden valley between the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers that is to Bordeaux what the Languedoc is to all of France...the place to go for good bulk wine.  But for about a century and a half the producers in Graves de Vayres have lobbied the industry about its difference from its surroundings and advocated for special recognition.  In 1931 that was accomplished when it was granted its AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controlee) but because of its ongoing lack of prominance perhaps, it still struggles for recognition.

Graves de Vayres seems to have an identity issue in part because it lies between two much better known wine regions and the case with the larger Graves region to the west is complicated by its name.  To the east lies tough competition in St. Emilion where some of the most expensive wines in the world are made.  While Graves de Vayres may be confused with Graves because of its name, its wines are more like St. Emilion, with similar finesse, yet delicately lighter in body than the right bank marquee names.

Since I began this post talking about geology, I probably ought to return to the subject before closing this article.  The last ice age resulted in the permanent sinking of the Dorgogne river valley around the stretch where the communes of Arveyres and Vayres would later develop.  The river became permanently widened there moderating summertime temperatures nearby for ideal vineyard soils now composed of clayey gravel, sand, and silt soils.  The wine producers from a hundred fifty or so years ago recognized the difference from the rest of the Entre-Deux-Mer, beginning the Graves de Vayres identity movement.

Like St. Emilion, Graves de Vayres reds are Merlot-based blends which also may include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.  The dominant flavors sheathed in soft tannins include: raspberry, black currant, blackberry and cherry with undertones of cedar, licorice, and spice.  Like Graves, Graves de Vayres whites are Sauvignon Blanc-based with Semillon and Muscadelle featuring flavors of hazelnut, citrus, pear, peach, and signature minerality.  The reds go well with cold cuts and roasted meats in sauce; the whites, with fish, cold white meats, and oysters.

Join us here Friday May 23rd between 5 and 7pm as Coleen Rotunno of Quality Wine & Spirits presents the wines of Gouguenheim of Argentina.  Gougenheim is known for Malbec and there will be two of those along with three other offerings, plus the critically acclaimed 2011 Casa Castillo Monastrell from Spain.  Coleen Rotunno is the former proprietor of Corkscrew Cafe in Dahlonega.  Please join us for the tasting.

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