Saturday, July 9, 2016


Funny how things change.  Prior to 2009 when the French wine appellation system was fundamentally changed, Luberon (LOO-ber-on) was considered to be a Vin de Pays, a region of lower quality wine production.  It was then known as Cotes du Luberon.  Now this horizontal belt of land in southern France has been upgraded to top level AOC quality which seems fitting considering its proximity to Gigondas, Vacqueras, Tavel, and Beaume de Venise of the Cotes du Rhone.  Moreover, the Luberon belt separates Ventoux, another recent AOC upgrade, to the north from the Provence AOC to the south. Lying approximately twenty miles north of the Mediterranean Coast and so sandwiched between AOC's, Luberon just has to be an AOC too, right?

 Luberon is also apparently a massif (massive) which in geological terms is a sizable unit of earth crust that moves as a whole like the much larger tectonic plate.  Considering what we learned about the geology of Comte Tolosan in our 6/11/16 post about southwestern France, the geology of the whole of southern France would seem to be somewhat unsettled.

Our subject here is relevant today because we recently brought in a case of 2014 Guyot Luberon Rouge "Les Luquets", a moderately priced blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Carignon.  Luberon reds at their best offer concentrated, full-bodied, herbal wines that will age well, like a Rhone.  Since Guyot is a prestigious producer, one would expect a wine approaching Cotes du Rhone quality.

 Syrah is always the primary grape in Luberon red blends and it offers color, complexity, tannin, aromatics, and alcohol to that blend.  Grenache offers more body and Carignon brings color, power, and structure.  Any Luberon red blend must have at least sixty percent Syrah and Grenache which should yield a wine with dark fruit, truffle, leather, and herbs.  Since our Guyot is a moderately priced example of type, it falls short of the "big and racy" ideal of production but none the less reaches the flavor profile depicted above.

Luberon has a five thousand year history of civilization with wine making being a big part of it. Today 53% of production is rose; 26% is red wines; and 21% is white.  35% of that production is exported.  Luberon also makes international-style varietal reds and whites that carry an IGP Vaucluse label.

So just as we learned in the Comte Tolosan post, government can act as an advocate for industry in the promotion of wine and that may be the case here.  The Guyot red is a solid example of the historic wine of the region, that is, it tastes the same as it did when it was Cotes du Luberon Vin de Pays.  The 2009 elevation of Luberon to AOC status seems to reflect the growth and sophistication of the global wine marketplace and the need to fill more slots at the top.

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