What’s in Your Glass? Chateau Virgile Costieres de Nimes Blanc 2008

There has never been more talk about “value wine” than there is now. Take a struggling economy, a slue of burgeoning New World wine regions and evolving consumer palates eager to try new wines,  and the category’s popularity seems to follow a natural sequence of events. A corollary to this has been the neglect of regions like the Northern Rhone, Burgundy and Champagne by many value seekers. Despite the fact that these ultra premium regions add little to the value pool they are not representative of France’s contribution as a whole. Unfortunately, the nation is almost always overlooked as a source of hidden gems.

No country’s wine regions have been studied, explored or written about more than France’s. Maybe that’s why the idea of finding anything new and interesting seems absurd to most wine lovers. Thankfully, true Francophiles and wine geeks know that there are plenty of surprises to be found for those who look hard enough and we fell in love with one last week.

The wine came from Chateau Virgile in the Costieres de Nimes, a tiny appellation in Southern France. Jancis Robinson, whose Oxford Companion to Wine includes entries on the smallest wine regions, describes the area “as one of the most interesting southern French appellations.” While the OCW details the “genuinely characterful, well-made” reds from the Costieres de Nimes, they ignore the whites as if they didn’t exist. We didn’t know either until we tasted the Chateau Virgile blanc.

The Virgile is a classic southern French blend, and maybe a classic for the Costieres de Nimes as well (who knows?!). Equal parts Marsanne and Rousanne make up 80% of the blend with the balance being the aromatic princess of the Northern Rhone, Viognier. This is a classic French country wine that is as fit for the beach as it is for the dinner table. The wine’s upfront orchard fruit and rustic provenance  actually had me wondering if this was some kind of  Norman cider in disguise. As the wine opened it vinous character fell into focus with notes of green apple, pear and honeysuckle appearing in the glass. While its crisp acidity makes it a great choice as spring approaches, it displays the rich mouth feel for which whites from the Southern Rhone/Provence are treasured.

At $15 bucks a bottle, this is a case-worthy wine that will help add some spice to your warm weather lineup sure to be full of roses, fridge happy Gamays and Cabernet Francs and Sauvignon Blancs from around the world.  Next time you want to try something different, it may be as easy as moving a few kilometers one way or the other in the world’s greatest wine country.


1 Comment »

  1. Alexis said

    Now Chateau Virgile is on line.
    You can access more information at http://www.chateauvirgile.com

    The website is in English and French.

    Envoy !

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