PICK of the RACK: Château de Nages | Cuvée JT (White) | Costières de Nîmes | Rhône Valley | France | 2012 | $20 | 91 pts

JT WhiteCostières de Nîmes AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) is the most southerly wine appellation of the Rhône Valley.  The region is nestled between two neighboring winegrowing regions — Languedoc to the west and Provence to the east — and is situated in close proximity to the Mediterranean sea to the south.  Vineyards here are among the oldest in Europe, and are distinguished by their rocky topsoils, iron-rich subsoils, and exposure to cool maritime breezes.  Château de Nages, located just south of the city of Nimes, is where Michel Gassier, a fourth generation winemaker, organically farms his family’s estate vineyards and produces wines that respect the past, convey their place, and embrace modern winemaking sensibilities.  His 2012 Cuvée JT white — a blend of Roussanne (52%) and Viognier (48%) — is an exuberant wine, with aromas that suggest white peach, orange blossom, and candied ginger followed by flavors that evoke baked pear, dried apricot, cinnamon, and spearmint.  The wine is tangy and intriguingly spicy on the palate, with a good measure of viscosity that lends a lush, creamy mouthfeel.  It was fermented in oak barrels and aged on the lees for around 8 months, and the oak is subtle.  It would pair well with soft, ripe cheeses, mixed fruit, curries, and veal dishes.

We also highly recommend two Château de Nages red wines:

chateau de nages 3First, the spirited 2011 Vieilles Vignes Red ($15), a medium-bodied blend of Grenache (72%), Syrah (24%), and Mourvedre (4%) with aromas and flavors of fresh red fruit, cranberry, black peppercorn, and dried herbs — 88 pts;



Chateau de nages 1And second, the meaty 2011 Cuvée JT Red ($20), a full-bodied blend of Syrah (88%) and Mourvedre (12%) with notes of black fruit compote, roasted plum, dark chocolate, and earthy minerality on the nose and palate — 90 pts.

Both reds are fleshy, balanced, and spicy — with temperate tannins, brisk acidity, and subtle oak — and should serve well with medium to sharp cheeses, assorted charcuterie, roasted and grilled meats, tomato-based dishes, and other hearty fare.

We found all three wines at our local Total Wine location, and they are available in many Total Wine stores nationwide ( www.totalwine.com )  For more information on these and other wines produced by Michel Gassier at Château de Nages, visit them virtually at www.michelgassier.com.

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