As I noted here last month, France’s South West region offer a range of original wines at affordable prices, and one that especially stood out for me in a broad recent tasting of the wines was a red from the Gaillac appellation, just north of Toulouse. Domaine Rotier’s 2007 Gaillac “Les Gravels” is as pretty and elegant a wine as you’ll find in the region, full of expressive fruit and complexity. As I sipped the wine over a couple of evenings, the tastes ranged from dark fruit, including blackberry and black cherry, to red fruit notes, especially raspberry, with black pepper, herbs and minerals rounding out the picture. I wrote in my notes that the wine would be a great Bordeaux substitute, at least as far as inexpensive reds are concerned.
In fact, South West has lived and struggled for years in the shadow of its famous neighbor to the north. For about $12 or so, Domaine Rotier’s Gaillac offers far more interest than most Bordeaux you’ll find at this price, with a real sense of place, or terroir. The wine is a blend of duras and braucol (also known as fer servadou), which are two indigenous varieties, and syrah, grown on gravelly soils near the surface and ancient marls below. Aging is without oak, which gives the wine a fresh fruitiness that I really enjoyed. In fact, Domaine Rotier’s Web site says that “wines from this terroir are not cellaring wines, they are at their best when drunk as young wines.” For red meats, duck and game. Alcohol is 13.5 percent. Received as a press sample.