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Gauby’s 2008 Vieilles Vignes blanc

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Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes 2008, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Gauby ($44.50, 11225184)
A blend of organically farmed, low-yield Macabeu (40%), Grenache Blanc (30%), Chardonnay (15%), Grenache Gris (10%) and Carignan Blanc (5%) from 50- to 100-year-old vines, except the Chardonnay, which is from 30-year-old vines. Direct pressed, low-temperature settling. Fermented with no additions, including of yeast. Aged seven to eight months on the fine lees, 65% in barrels and 35% in vats. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. 12.5% ABV (according to the label; SAQ.com says 13.5%, though that may be for a different vintage).

Served at the October 2010 MWG tasting, the 2007 had everybody swooning. Served at the October 2011 MWG tasting, the 2008 (no published notes, alas) seemed less swoon-worthy. Yet a bottle of the 2008 opened at Raza two or three weeks ago held the three of us in thrall from the first sip. What a difference nine months makes? Proof that there are no great wines, only great bottles? Or that context is everything? Your guess is as good as mine.

Anyway, the nose of the June bottle was an appealing mix of under-ripe pineapple, Meyer lemon and rainwater. On the palate, a nuanced and layered mouthful of crystalline minerals, delicate fruit (pear, quince) and soft but penetrating acidity. Beautifully balanced, with everything in place, and possessed of a long, elegant finish.

That it was able to serve as a deluxe aperitif and accompany dishes as varied and challenging as scallop ceviche with hibiscus gélée, a citrusy salad with slices of rare, chile-accented duck breast, and an empanada filled with pulled pork, apple compote and foie gras shows just how versatile a wine it is.

Wines like this and Rouge Gorge’s all-Macabeu cuvée argue strongly that the Côtes catalanes region is the source of some of France’s finest whites these days. As such, the Vieilles Vignes is hardly overpriced. Unfortunately, ours was one of the last bottles available in the centre city, though there’s still some to be found in far-flung outlets. Worth seeking out.

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Written by carswell

July 16, 2012 at 10:10

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