What to drink this week

Gas­con de­lights

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

As I write, sum­mer ap­pears to have gone away on what I hope turns out to be a short hol­i­day. Sun­nier and warmer days will re­turn and wines that ma­jor in re­fresh­ing nim­ble­ness rather than heavy so­lid­ity will be in de­mand. I urge you to turn your at­ten­tion to one of France’s most en­chant­ing, re­mote and un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated wine re­gions. This is Gas­cony, per­haps best known as the home­land of Ar­magnac (see page 92), but also a pro­ducer of fas­ci­nat­ing ta­ble wines.

Why you should be drink­ing them

Gas­cony was lan­guish­ing in the 1970s when a far-sighted ge­nius named An­dré Du­bosc came on the scene. He re­vi­talised the vast Plai­mont co-op­er­a­tive, which farms more than 120,000 acres, and turned it into a dy­namic pro­ducer and ex­porter of ex­cel­lent, good­value ta­ble wines, from the sim­ple IGT Côtes de Gascogne to qual­ity cu­vées based on such grapes as Gros Manseng and Tan­nat.

What to drink

Gas­cony has an ex­tra­or­di­nary dowry of old vines and lo­cal grape va­ri­eties. Fol­low­ing the lead of Plai­mont, the fam­ily es­tate of Do­maine de Pelle­haut, in part­ner­ship with Mai­son Sichel, is do­ing ex­cel­lent work with its Har­monie de Gascogne range. The Do­maine de Pelle­haut Blanc 2016 (£7.99; www.cam­bridgewine.com) is made from an eclec­tic mix of grapes, in­clud­ing Gros Manseng, Sau­vi­gnon and Chardon­nay, and the blend works beau­ti­fully, com­bin­ing grape­fruity zest with peachy round­ness. Do­maine de Pelle­haut Rouge 2015 (£7.59; www.thos­peatling.com) does the same trick with an un­usual melange of red va­ri­eties, with Pinot Noir and Manseng Noir in the mix, and the re­sult is en­tic­ing, straw­berry-light and fresh. As for the Rosé 2016 (right, £7.99; www.con­nollyswine.co. uk), it’s pale sal­mon-pink, pretty, fresh and mor­eish.

Harry Eyres is en­chanted by these fas­ci­nat­ing wines from the home of Ar­magnac

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