Mont Gravet Cotes de GascogneWine of the Month, July 2015
Mont Gravet Cotes de Gascogne
Mont Gravet is a delicious white wine from the Gascony region of France. It is made of 100% Colombard – a grape you may not be too familiar with, but will surely enjoy. It is a fruit forward, citrus flavor driven wine that is designed with summer in mind, which is why we are featuring it for the month of July.
What’s in a name? Mont Gravet is a combination of Mont, the French word for hills or mountains referring to the local slopes in Gascony, and Gravet, the French word for the oval shaped rocks found in the area. The hills allow good drainage for the soil, while the rocks serve to hold in some of the heat from the day during the cool nights. The result is a richly concentrated wine, perfect on its own as an aperitif or paired with a wide range of seafood dishes.
All About Colombard
Mont Gravet is made of 100% Colombard. You may think you’ve never had Colombard before, but you likely have – it is traditionally used alongside Ugni Blanc for Cognac and Armagnac, the famous brandys of Southwest France. Modern vintners are revisiting this previously under-appreciated grape, and finding that it produces excellent light, refreshing wines similar in profile to Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.
Colombard is believed to have come from Charente, a region north of Bordeaux and also from Gascony where we source our grapes for Mont Gravet today. It is a cousin of the Chenin Blanc grape and those characteristics come through when tasting Mont Gravet. It is also a permitted grape for Bordeaux White Wine, but found greater use when paired with Ugni Blanc in Cognac and Armagnac.
Modern winemakers in Southwest France have given a resurgence to the Colombard grape, and we’re happy to be among them. Colombard is a hardy varietal, able to retain a good amount of acidity even in hot, dry conditions. We have found that when grown with care, it produces a light, fresh, citrus driven wine that is perfect for summer.
Gascony, the Home of Mont Gravet
Gascony, in Southwest France, is most commonly thought of when it comes to the famous brandys Cognac and Armagnac. However, still wine production has been going on in Gascony for centuries, and our Mont Gravet honors this legacy while showcasing the flavors and style of a modern white wine.
The Cotes de Gascogne IGP area is roughly continguous with the Armagnac AOC, just outside of the city of Toulouse. North of the Pyrenees, the Gascony region is marked by gently sloping hills basked in sunlight. Gascony is situated just southeast of the famous wine region of Bordeaux, and is a great place to look for red wine with a similar profile but a quarter of the cost. Because the Gascony region is so large, it is hard to describe a “typical” soil composition, but with Mont Gravet, we’ve given you a hint. “Mont” is the French word for hills, and “Gravet” describes the oval shaped stones that litter the vineyards in this region (you’ll see them on the label of the bottle!). These stones serve to capture the heat during the day and slowly release it throughout the night, reducing shock to the roots and vines.
Mont Gravet, though, is quite distinctive compared to Bordeaux white wine. Made of 100% Colombard (the primary white grape of Gascony, along with Ugni Blanc), it seizes the Mediterranean sun to ripen into beautiful citrus flavors, with a touch of stone fruit. The cool nights in the Gascony region help to give it a zesty acidity, much more than the sometimes bland whites from Bordeaux.
Courtesy of Janie Master, here is a fun recipe that she loves to serve when drinking Mont Gravet.
Warm Lobster salad in a martini glass
– 1 large baking potato
– 2 tbs butter, margarine or olive oil
– 4-6 tbs heavy cream
– ground nutmeg, salt and black pepper to taste
– 1 tsp chopped fresh mint leaves
– 4-6 oz cooked lobster meat marinated in 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
– 2 tbs olive oil
Place lobster meat in small plastic container and add the lemon juice and olive oil and a little salt if necessary. Toss well, cover and leave to marinate for at least an hour or more.
Meanwhile, peel potato and chop into four or five cubes and then cook in boiling salted water until really soft. Strain and mash the potato. Add the butter, nutmeg, salt and black pepper to taste and then add enough cream to make a soft ice-creamy consistency. Keep warm.
Chop fresh mint and add to the creamed potato. Then spoon the warm potato into tall-stemmed martini glass. Then top with the lobster meat and decorate with fresh sprig of mint.