The summer days are heating up quickly here in New York City. On a recent weekend, my wife and I fled the steam to enjoy the cool, leafy venue of our friends’ home in rural Connecticut. It was a last-minute trip, but we lucked out because the shish kabobs were already marinating.
As we sat down to dine, my friend opened up a bottle of white, but it went into the ice bucket before I could catch a glimpse of its name. I discerned enough from the bottle shape and label design to venture a guess that it was a white Bordeaux. Sure enough, it did have the crisp herbal and grassy flavors of Sauvignon Blanc, which forms the basis of these wines. But there were also peach notes in this, with mineral and almond accents, and a hint of butter. I pulled the bottle from the bucket and found that it came from the south of France and was made by the owners of one of the region’s top estates, the Guibert family of Mas de Daumas Gassac.
Its regal name, Grande Réserve de Gassac, belies its down-to-earth origins as a bottling of purchased grapes made specifically for the U.S. and U.K. markets. Fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, this wine is comprised of equal parts of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Marsanne—a veritable fruit basket, which explains its diversity of flavors. I rated it 87 points, non-blind, and it costs $14 a bottle. A good match for the chicken and pork skewers on the grill, this fresh-tasting white has a touch of richness, but comes in at just 12.5 percent alcohol.
WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for other very good to outstanding whites from the southern France region of Languedoc-Roussillon.