Notes from the Cellar: Good intentions

by Jeff Cox, Wine and Beer Merchandiser

This article was originally published in October 2008

If the highway to hell is paved with good intentions, I’m definitely doing my shift on the road crew of the damned. Yes, I truly did intend to craft the monthly screed, but, well, you know how it goes.

In any case, I can brilliantly cut and paste, so here then are the words of Aimee Male of North Berkeley Imports, one of our favorite importers, talking about some of our favorite wines grown by one of our favorite producers, in one of our favorite places on earth:

“Utter the word Provence and any sensualist will instantly sigh. This is France’s dreamy playground, the land of endless azure skies and pristine beaches. Who doesn’t want a year in Provence, if not 10? Yet while the region is renowned for its earthly delights, one element has been surprisingly missing — a surfeit of splendid wine.”

Such a travesty was not meant to be forever, and now France’s southernmost region is finding its voice with bold wines that speak to Provence’s rich and varied terroir. This geological pastiche of sun-roasted limestone crags and rolling foothills is caressed by maritime winds and cooled by the northern mistral.

There is nothing shy about wines from Provence; its reds are bold and ruddy, as witnessed from the muscular Mourvèdre from Bandol. Other Rhône varietals, such as Grenache, Syrah and especially old-vine Carignan, are some of the best sunbathers in France and show splendidly on these sun-drenched slopes.

Mas de Gourgonnier, Mouriés (Les Baux de Provence)
Our good friends Luc and Lucienne Cartier (and their talented daughter, Eve) have quietly and consistently crafted the finest wines in the gorgeous countryside of Les Baux de Provence. These 100 percent certified organic, southern French wines are now better than ever — and with recent vintages Mas has definitely sealed its position as the leading estate in the region.

Mas de Gourgonnier’s appellation is in a little-known region called Les Baux de Provence, located due south from some of the southern Rhône’s superstars, most notably Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

The shimmering perfume of garrigue wafts over Mouriés, an ancient hamlet shaded by stately olive trees and surrounded by neat rows of sun-baked vineyards. Mas wines share all the depth and concentration of great Rhône and Bordeaux wines, yet capture an added beauty and spice only found in the bucolic hills of Provence.

Robust Grenache, sweet Syrah, muscular Mourvèdre and old-vine Carignan (all grapes that love a heat wave just as much as the next Provençal tourist) are just some of the varietals that make up all of Mas’ outstanding offerings.

The Mas de Gourgonnier Rouge (packed in its rustic, bulbous bottle) and all Mas wines are unmistakable — and always amazingly affordable.”

Also in this issue

Letters to the editor, October 2008

Grocery receipts, Vegan diets, Soy foods, and more

Why genetically modified crops will not feed the world

Rising food prices reached a flash point this spring, sparking food riots in more than a dozen countries. And for the world’s poor, high prices mean hunger. The global food crisis has many causes, but according to the biotechnology industry, there’s a simple solution — genetically modified (aka biotech) crops ... Not everyone is convinced.

Your co-op, October 2008

Fall member meeting, Upcoming Talk to the Board opportunities, Board application deadline November 4, and more