Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wine From Aveyron

Aveyron is in southwest France in the Midi-Pyrenee region next to Gascony, an eastern extension of South-West France. Old castles, stone walls, and ancient bridges--evidence of a once bustling region remain. Its hillsides have long been growing typical South-West grapes like Fer Servadou, Chenin Blanc, Negrette, Jurancon Noir, Portuguais Bleu, and the occasional Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. But much of the vineyards are now abandoned. Residents have left their impoverished villages for a better life up north in Paris.

Nicolas Carmarans is an Aveyronnais. His family, too, left Aveyron to open bistros and cafes in Paris. Nicolas is well known in Paris for re-opening in 1994 the historic Cafe de la Nouvelle Mairie in the Latin Quarter, where famous French artists and photographers like Robert Doisneau frequently hanged out. He turned it into a wine bar serving food and featuring an extensive list of mostly natural wines. It was one of the first of its kind to open in Paris, over a decade before other natural wine bars followed suit today.

Nicolas Carmarans became close friends with many of his wine producers, and after learning much from them he decided in 2007 to return to Aveyron to make wines from the small plots that he was able to acquire and rent. He managed the cafe part-time but sold it altogether by 2012. Carmaran's wines are now highly sought-after not just in Paris but also in many European countries and, in particular, Japan.

In the US, Nicolas Carmarans' wines have only been seen in New York, specifically at Ten Bells and Chambers Street. However, I'm very pleased to say that outside of New York and in the entire West Coast Vineyard Gate is the first and only one to offer his wine!

The 2011 Averyron Red "Cuvee 12"--named for the French department number for Aveyron--consists mainly of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon with a bit of Fer Servadou. Most of the vines date back to 1960. Carmarans saved the plots from building construction and has farmed them organically and traditionally without wires. He doesn't chaptalize, or add any additives or use sulfites. He vinifies with native yeasts and without temperature control in vats and casks. Beautiful wine, luscious blackberry flavors, earthy, with Cabernet notes of pepper and herbs. The palate is well-balanced and the finish is long. The wine really grows on you and is hard not to keep sipping.

An amazing value for an awesome red made with meticulous, artisanal care and that is rare to find in the US.

Aveyron Red IGP "Cuvee 12", Nicolas Carmarans 2011 $25.00 (order here)

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