Summer wines, high and low: A Sancerre of aristocratic origins, and a pink from the Costières de Nîmes meant for gulping.
The names of winemakers Jean and Ginette Thomas—and their children Julien and Christale—often appear coupled with the word “aristocracy.” Their 33-acre property has been in their family since 1670. They share the tiny (population abut 300) village of Verdigny with some distinguished neighbors, also in business for multiple generations, such as Domaine Bernard Reverdy & Fils and Domaine Paul Prieur & Fils. Verdigny is home to these producers largely because of vineyards like La Crêle, which is noted for its limestone-laced soil and the small white stones known as caillottes that freckle the surface. It has a desirable southeast-facing slope, and is planted to sauvignon blanc vines of an average age of 35 years.
Domaine Thomas & Fils “ La Crêle” Sancerre 2011: A pale straw color in the glass. On the nose, floral notes, lemon, lime, and pineapple. In the mouth, the pineapple flavor gives an impression of richness, but the acidity and mineralic quality keep it very refreshing. All fruit was hand picked, and fermentation took place in stainless tanks. This one of a very few top-quality whites that stands up to being served quite cold. On a hot summer's day, it is a bracing, mind-clearing experience. We actually drank it along side some cheese-stuffed lamb sliders that the Chef concocted in a very small kitchen while we were visiting friends and family on Cape Cod. The wine came from a tiny but thoughtfully stocked shop in Duxbury, MA (aka “Deluxebury” which tells you everything you need to know about it). It's imported by Robert Kacher.
We recently opened another Kacher selection, from one of my favorite winemakers, the indomitable Diane de Puymorin, famous for her premium Costières de Nîmes wine produced under the name Chateau d'Or et Gueules. Her bargain line is sold as Domaine de la Petite Cassagne. She's in the village of St. Gilles, almost directly south of the city of Nîmes, where she has the advantage of the bluffs that form the Costières and relative proximity to the Camargue.
Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Rosé Costières de Nîmes 2012: Pale pink in the glass, almost but not quite what the French call oeil de la perdrix. It is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. On the nose, strawberry, watermelon, and just a bit of the sweet herb melange that the region is famous for. In the mouth, sweet red fruit balanced by tart citrus. This is for gulping, not for contemplation, and at $11.99 you can gulp quite a bit of it. Delicious with a dinner of grilled eggplant, sweet torpedo onions, and fresh corn on the cob.