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August 01, 2007

06 Domaine du Tariquet, Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascone

In many ways, these ugni-blanc- and colombard-based wines from the Southwest of France are the new pinot grigio. Or maybe it'd be more apt to call them the old gris. They represent the light, lemony wine--preferred as a house wine by bistros around the world--at a time when pinot grigio itself has gotten too fleshy, ripe, and relaxed. It reminds me of the real northern-Italian bottles that always seem seasoned with a bit of salt and chalk. Maybe that's because table wine--before it's marketed to the masses--is the same wherever you go. People tend to want the same thing, and that's a wine flavorful enough to be enjoyed on its own--not in a sterile tasting lab--and bright enough to make food taste better. Among the precious Gascone whites, this Tariquet is the very best. It's as refreshing as these wines can be, but a little plumper than most, saturated with a deep taste of honeydew melon, slightly underripe mango, Saison yeast, and Meyer lemon--all seasoned with a liberal fistful of finely ground white pepper--flavors that would poke through in the best cognacs and armagnacs once this juice is distilled. Let's hope they keep this whole though. It needs no distillation. Everything here is pure.


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