Finding a crisp, lively, distinctive-tasting white wine to go with light summer dishes isn’t difficult. I usually gravitate toward Spanish whites, especially Albariño and Txakolina, which have the mineral flavors and freshness that seem to cozy up to many warm-weather foods. On a recent visit to Pacifica restaurant in Aspen, Colo., where chef Barclay Dodge has made a triumphant return to the town where he first made his name, my friend Mark pointed to an unfamiliar wine from a familiar name: M. Chapoutier Marius 2010, a white blend from the Languedoc in southern France. They know a few things about drinking pleasant wines with warm-weather foods there, and the sommelier said that it was kind of like those Spanish wines I kept ordering, so we tried a bottle ($30 on the list; at retail it goes for $12).
A blend of Tennet and Vermentino, grape varieties that are usually down the long list of blending grapes in southern France, the wine showed pear, citrus and walnut flavors on a light frame, lingering deftly on the finish. From a winemaker known for his classic Hermitage and Northern Rhônes, this has a little more going for it than most simple white blends from the south of France. 88 points, non-blind.
The screw-capped wine came into its own with Dodge’s delicate fried oysters with hearts of palm in a rémoulade dressing, harissa-accented bison tartare and beautifully presented tuna carpaccio with truffle emulsion. It even handled my pork osso buco with smoked escarole salsa verde and clams with no issues—just the juicy flavors lingering.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for M. Chapoutier Vin de Pays d’Oc Marius White 2010 (84 points, $13).
• Plus, read more about the wine, and other M. Chapoutier wines, in James Molesworth's blog about visiting the producer's cellars.