David 8 June 2016
I'm always on the lookout for a good sub-$20 wine to put on the table - something other than the usual suspects. This wine has fast become a favourite any day tipple.
Run by the Grassa family, Domaine du Tariquet is located in the 'Vin de Pays' wine-growing district of Côtes de Gascogne, on the French side of the Pyrenees. Known as Gascony, this area is part of the large and emerging wine region of South West France. The countryside here is beautiful, with a history of Basque influences, dotted with medieval towns, distant views of the Pyrenees and plenty of sunshine. This is foie gras and Armagnac country and the place Cyrano de Bergerac called home.
Domaine du Tariquet was established in 1912, just east of the small town of Éauze, the capital of Armagnac. The story of its rise has the makings of a Hollywood epic - mountain crossings, bear taming, two world wars, ocean crossings, escape from a POW camp and the French Resistance. In the 1946 finale, Pierre and Hélène (whose family owned the run down estate), find each other in 1946, fall in love and then live happily ever after.
The couple rebuilt the estate, which like all in the region had been decimated by phylloxera (an aphid-like insect) in the early 1920s. Four children and decades of hard work followed, with son Yves and daughter Maïté eventually joining the business. Now Yves' sons, Armin and Rémy, are involved in the estate. Sadly Pierre and Hélène are no longer with us.
It was Yves who really transformed the Estate into the huge success it is today. After travelling extensively and gaining experience in wineries around the world, he took a pioneering step. Yves decided to make table wine from the grapes, which up to that point had been used solely to produce Armagnac. He made a white wine from the traditional Armagnac varieties of Ugni Blanc and Colombard. This risky step coincided with some significant advances in winery technology, such as temperature-controlled ferments. The result was fresh, light and affordable wine - the fresh style not something previously done by French producers. Yves was awarded the IWC (International Wine Challenge) Winemaker of the Year in 1987.
And so Domaine Du Tariquet evolved from a small Armagnac producer, to the largest independent wine producer in France, with many grape varieties, several wine styles and over 2,300 acres of vines. "The crisp, fresh, fruity, Vin de Pays Côtes de Gascogne Tariquet white wines are arguably some of the best-value-for-money wines around." The Wine Route, 2010. Their success and size is of course the reason they're able to produce such good wines for the price. And yes, they still make an impressive range of Armagnac.
Domaine Du Tariquet Classic 2014
The Classic is the signature wine of the Domaine and is a direct descendant of the first white wine made by Yves in 1982. The 2014 is a blend of 45% Ugni Blanc, 35% Colombard, 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Gros Manning.
The winemaker describes it as: "Superbly intense for a dry fruity white, its bouquet reveals floral and citrus aromas with nice touches of tropical fruit. Light and well-balanced, this wine is a thirst-quenching pleasure." And I’d have to agree.
This is the way table wine should be - refreshing and simple to enjoy. It's pale gold, bright and clear. You'll find zingy flavours of pineapple, lemon and lime cordial, a touch of nutty musk, and just a hint of French flintiness on the finish. It's dry, clean and crisp, and I love that it's 10.5% alcohol - perfect for mid-week drinking.
One of the most affordable, best value French whites around.
I can offer it for $19.50 a bottle. Click here to order.