Costieres de Nimes – A Walk in the Vines

Earlier this year, a group of bloggers participated in a very interesting introduction to the Costieres de Nimes.

Costieres de Nimes

As I mentioned in last year’s Secret Wine competition, Costieres de Nimes is an interesting wine country that sits between the Languedoc and Rhone (both geographically and stylistically).  This unique position allows them to create their own style of elegant, rich wines.

A few observations:

  • Mostly red and rosé; syrah, grenache, etc.
  • Most producers I met seemed to have relatively large properties (40+ hectares)
  • about 100 wineries and 400-some growers.
  • Approximately 4500 hectares
  • mixed agriculture and viticulture
  • The vines were at least 3 weeks ahead of schedule in May 2011

I just popped a bottle of Chateau Mourgues du Gres yesterday with my dad.  It was one of my favorite producers from the trip, and the bottle I brought home was just as good as I remembered.  Here’s a video of the winemaker at Mourgues du Gres recorded by Christian Pennaud from Vinblog.

Costieres de Nimes is a region where people can make rich wines with a lot of balance. My kind of place.

I might also note that this is a slightly more agrarian landscape than many parts of the south of France. Beside vineyards, you could find fruit orchards, squash gardens, and other signs that there’s a little more water in the Costieres de Nimes than you might find in the heights of the Coteaux du Languedoc. It’s not ALL garrigue here. And that’s not a bad thing. The ultimate proof that this is an interesting terroir is that we tasted great wine (and enjoyed a beautiful walk too!)

Vignes Toquées

The Vignes Toquées event is a really wonderful opportunity to taste wine in context amidst the vines. You walk along a route that connects six vineyards. Each vineyard has a food station so that, by the end of the day, you’ve had a six course meal, tasted dozens of wines, and seen several different properties.

You really get to roam around where the wine comes from. See the vines. Kick the dirt. Feel the Mediterranean sunshine (and this May, it was out IN FORCE).

The biggest problem with tasting wine this way is that you can get really really hot (and somewhat exhausted). But the producers did an amazing job of keeping wines at temperature and the food was delicious.  And they had lots of water at all the stations.  Seasoned wine tasters know that water can be a rare commodity at some tasting events.  But there was plenty here to keep us hydrated as we walked in the warm Mediterranean sunshine.  Though I will admit that even I started to falter somewhere between the bull meat and the cheese course.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was drinking more water than wine by the end of the walk (liters of both! ;D)

All in all, these sort of ballades gourmandes are really awesome. Although you should remember to pace yourself!

Toward the end of the day, I caught up with Daniel Roche who has helped to organize the Vignes Toquees and other ballades gourmandes around the region.  He refused to take credit for how well the event ran, but you can tell he’s very pleased!  “Il faisait beau. Il fasait chaud.  Mais on est comme-même dans une région de chaleur et de soleil donc c’est bien qu’il faisait beau et chaud!”

What kind of people come to Vignes Toquees?

I also love how varied the crowd was. French and foreign. Young and old. People came as couples, family outings, or just a fun day with friends. It’s great to see that the event appeals to such a diverse array of people.

Some of the other bloggers’ accounts

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