Winter is probably my favorite season in NYC. Although you can't quite enjoy a rooftop, you get to wear chunky sweaters, cute scarves, and how about those Holiday decorations (Bergdorf Goodman windows anyone)?! The Rockefeller Center Tree, the ice rink in Bryant Park, even the massive candy canes on 58th St. are totally iconic this time of year. Although I get so wrapped up in this New York City season (literally wrapping presents for weeks), there is one wine region in particular producing wine that has been captivating me year-round...introducing Wines of Southwest France.
I was first introduced to the region at an event cohosted by André Compeyre, sommelier and manager of Aldo Sohm Wine Bar (and Midtown staple), over the summer. I was blown away by the diversity of not only the grapes themselves, but by the terroir that drives them. The region is situated inland and south of Bordeaux, with the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the colossal Pyrénées Mountains to the south. Occupying 120,000 acres, the South West is the 5th largest wine region in France! That evening we were lucky to be joined by some of the vignerons themselves pouring and speaking about their wines. They spoke of community, family, food and wine. That wine IS food, and in the Southwest, they take time everyday to sit with loved ones over a bottle and a meal. Not just for dinner, but in the middle of the day. Talk about quality of life...who votes we implement this into NYC culture?! I DO!
What impressed me the most was learning there was 300 grape varieties grown in the region, 120 of which are native! One of my favorites is Tannat from the Madiran AOP. Tannat is an extremely food-friendly variety showing notes of blackberry, licorice, black plum, baking spices and cocoa. One of my absolute favorites is by Laplace who is recognized as a leading quality producer. Tannat kind of reminds of Cabernet Sauvignon, but with more attitude! If it was a neighborhood in NYC it would probably be the East Village...great for food, good value, and still a bit undiscovered. Speaking of value, have I mentioned that wines of Southwest France are extremely affordable? Unlike their neighboring region Bordeaux, you can pick up a quality bottle of Tannat for between $15-$30. This price point is key while paying New York City rent!
It's not all about the reds either! As mentioned previously, the Southwest is an extremely diverse region, so you can find dry rosé, aromatic whites, and delicate bubbles. Looking for something more salad and shellfish friendly? Try a blend from the Côtes de Gascogne appellation. This wine from Domaine Du Tariquet in particular is a blend of 45% Ugni Blanc, 35% Colombard, 10% Sauvignon, and 10% Gros Manseng. Aromas of tangerine, lemon zest, and white flowers grace the nose while more citrus fruit and tropical notes appear on the palate. The wine is elegant, and with so many native grapes in the blend, it's extremely unique. If this wine-growing region was a neighborhood in NYC, it would be Central Park. There may be places in the world with similar characteristics, but there's only ONE indigenous to New York City.
After tasting these amazing wines, it comes as no surprise that Southwest France would win Wine Enthusiast’s 2017 pick for “Wine Region of the Year.” So, let’s celebrate the season by doing as the French do, and share a bottle with loved ones over lunch!
This post was written in partnership with Wines of Southwest France.