By J.T. Coppinger
Costières de Nîmes is not an appellation that wine lovers discuss with much regularity. Not because it has little significance or the wine produced in this “in-between” AOC are not high quality, but because Costières de Nîmes is simply newer to the world of distinguished, recognized appellations and somewhat hard to classify. Although relatively young, receiving AOC status in 1986, Costières de Nîmes is packed to the brim with history. Wine has been produced in this region for over two millennia and was consumed by the Greeks in pre-Roman times- these are some of the oldest vineyards in Europe. The area was settled by veterans of Julius Caesars’ campaigns in Egypt, and bottles of Costières de Nîmes bear the symbol of the Roman settlement at Nîmes, which is a crocodile chained to a palm tree. Tucked between the ancient city of Nîmes and the western Rhône delta in the French department of the Gard (fewer than 20 miles from the Mediterranean coast), this region was formerly part of the Languedoc region of France, although the wines more resemble those of the Rhône valley. Today this AOC has become known for beautiful Rhône style whites and reds that pack all the punch of the better known Rhône AOC’s with a much more manageable price point… Win-win if you ask me!
This month’s Winery Focus is the perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself with the lovely wines from this rising AOC. Mas Carlot comes to us from winemaker Nathalie Blanc-Marès who started making wine in 1988 with the goal of showing the world how great the wine from Costières de Nîmes really can be. Since then her hard work and 75 hectares of land in the red clay and limestone soils of the Southern Rhône have made Mas Carlot one of the most respected wine brands of the appellation. Nathalie is passionate about the details. Not only is every wine she produced farmed sustainably, but the entire winery is powered by solar panels. The care and dedication she has to her wine is evident in every sip. Her whites, Marsanne-Roussanne “Tradition” and the Clairette de Bellegarde are cold-stabilized and fermented in stainless steel tanks, with 20 percent of the Clairette vinified in two- to three-year barrels. Both whites age on their lees without a need to undergo malolactic fermentation. The reds, Grenache-Syrah “Tradition Rouge” is fermented in-tank while “Les Enfants Terribles,” a tongue-in-cheek tribute to their four children and the unruly Mourvèdre grape, is partially aged in barrels. The reds are intensely aromatic with abundant notes of the native roses, violets, spices, and fresh berry character and the whites are summertime gems providing great acid, structure, and fruit. We are so excited to feature these wines! They blew us away and we know they’ll have the same effect on you!