Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Good, Cheap Red From Nîmes

les galets rougesI can't tell you how pleased I am with the 2004 reds I've had from southern France at all price points. Freshness and vitality seem to characterize the vintage, and this $10 wine continues the run. I'm talking about the 2004 Chateau Mourgues du Gres Les Galets Rouges from the Costières de Nîmes. This appellation comprises the far southwestern arm of the Rhône region and, as the very name of this wine suggests, the same large, rolled pebbles that are found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape can be found here. The picture at right comes from the winery's web site.

The Galets Rouges is predominantly young-vine Syrah, complimented by at least 25% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre (per Costières de Nîmes appellation rules) and a bit of old vine Carignan. It's aged in epoxy-lined concrete tanks (no oak!) for 12 months.

Coffee and blackberry notes dominate the nose, but the mouth action is what's particularly impressive: this is a completely balanced wine. The acidity and tannins are in harmony and the wine shows good length and depth. It's a large-bodied wine, and meat and pepper quietly nuzzle the ample fruit, but it's never heavy, thanks to the refreshing acidity. All for $10! OK, no one is expecting bedazzling complexity or nuance at this price and you won't find it here, but I've had enough very good cheap wine to demand balance and interest at every price point. This one delivers.

Oh, and I'm starting to wonder if 2004 is more my kind of vintage from the Rhône than the much-heralded 2005, which produced bigger, heavier wines. Being the Rhône boy that I am, I'm not about to shy away from further investigation!


David McDuff said...

Hey Mike,
I've enjoyed wines, both red and rose, from Morgues du Gres in the past. They can sometimes run toward high alcohol though. Off the top of my head, I remember a rose in the 15% neighborhood. Did you notice any issues with this in that respect?

Wicker Parker said...

Hey, David. No problems with alcohol levels here -- it's well balanced, neither hot nor fat. The label is stamped at 14% and in this vintage, anyway, could be even less. Good minerality here, too (which I can't believe I forgot to mention in the original post).

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