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Annual Tasting Profile: Michel Gassier

Costieres de Nimes - baby Chateauneuf?

OK, maybe that's slightly unfair, but not entirely an entirely far-fetched comparison. The soil-types are similar, with the big "rolled pebbles" so typical of the Rhone valley very present in each; some kind of cooling influence (the minimal effect from the Rhone itself for Chateauneuf, and the much larger effect of the Med on Costiere) and of course, very much the same grape varieties. The other advantage that this most Southern of Rhone appellations has going for it is it's almost entirely unknown. And that means great value for us!

The above should give you a better idea of where we are talking about. Technically speaking, Costieres de Nimes could easily be a part of the Languedoc wine region, given it directly neighbours it. Indeed it was, right from the creation of the appellation in 1986 until 1998. At this point, though, the growers of the region applied to have it moved to the Rhone as they felt their wines more synonymous with that style. Probably a bit of ego in there too, as Rhone has always been seen as more aspirational...

As mentioned, the typical Rhone varieties of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan dominate on the red side, with Viognier, Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Ugni Blanc on the white.

What sets Michel Gassier's apart, however, are two major things:
  1. their dedication to having minimal impact and respecting their soil - they are certified organic, and they are very aware that they are working in an EU-recognised habitat (not far from the Camargue)
  2. the incredible balance and freshness they find. In such a hot region, it is very unusual to come across wines which aren't bold, heavy and rustic in style. Without exception, Michel Gassier's are still fruity and full, but with a wonderful light touch to keep them drinkable throughout the year.
The Chateau de Nages has been in the Gassier family for 4 generations, and they are now working to combine this love of the local traditions and countryside for something more modern and open. The wines (a white and a red) we have chosen to take on are a true reflection of this. Called "Nostre Pais" (old Provencal for "our country") with wonderful labelling reflecting their labour and attention to the vines themselves.
Both these wines have been very highly acclaimed by international press, and, were they to be found in more illustrious regions, would cost upwards of £20. That we will be stocking them for £15 should give an indication of the amazing value they represent. So do come down on the 8th to give them a go!

More information about Michel Gassier can be found on their website or their (very professional and English-speaking) YouTube video.