Sips: Bouley meets the wines of France's emerging South West

None other than David Bouley proclaimed the other night that France’s South West was poised to make important gains in acceptance as a significant wine region, just as Languedoc to the east had done in recent years. He noted that there was at least one South West wine on the list at Bouley, his signature restaurant. The occasion was a tasting of some of the region’s wines at Bouley Test Kitchen, which is where the famed chef and his staff come up with new dishes for the restaurant and which has become a popular special events venue, its island kitchen providing an intriguing centerpiece for the space. For the tasting, the whites were placed on one side of the kitchen, the reds on the other.

I have to admit that between talking with a lot of people, listening to David Bouley and tasting an array of delicious appetizers, I didn’t get much beyond the white wines. And that is why I’m going to focus on them here, although it is for such red appellations as Cahors, Madiran and others that the region is mainly known.

First off was a very fresh and lively wine from Gascony, Domaine de Ballade’s 2009 Cotes de Gascogne Blanc, a blend of 70 percent sauvignon blanc and 30 percent colombard that bursts with lime and pink grapefruit and is rounded off with a slightly creamy note. It’s a natural for shellfish and also paired nicely with an asparagus and crème fraiche appetizer. It’s also a real value at around $10. (Imported by Baron Francois Ltd., New York.) Just as refreshing, though a little less complex, was another $10 wine from Gascony, the 2009 Colombelle made by the Plaimont cooperative. This blend of 70 colombard and 30 ugni blanc is marked by citrus notes and a bit of spice. (Imported by Winesellers, Ltd., Niles, Illinois.)

The most interesting of the whites was the 2009 Saint-Mont “Les Vignes Retrouvées,” also from Plaimont, with apple, pear, honey and spice notes and a good deal of minerality that comes across on an impressively long finish. Made from 70 percent gros marseng, 15 percent petit courbu and 15 percent arrufiac, it was subtle and complex and was an excellent match for a number of appetizers. It’s also a great value at $13. (Imported by Jerome Selection Wines, Brooklyn, New York.)

One red I did get to enjoy was from the Gaillac appellation, Chateau Sainte-Cecile’s 2006 “Cuvee Allegro,” a medium-bodied $13 wine with delicious red berry fruit, violets and lots of earth. It’s a blend of 40 percent syrah, 40 percent braucol and 20 percent duras. (Imported by Jerome Selection Wines, Brooklyn, New York.) When it comes to original wines at relatively modest prices, this and other reds from South West compete very favorably with wines from Bordeaux, the region’s famous neighbor to the north. And the whites are true bargains.

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