Wednesday, January 6, 2010

L'Oustal Blanc Naick 6

Every once in a while, I’m lucky enough to taste something that is just so different from other wines out there that it’s crazy. Sometimes it’s crazy in a bad way, and when I’m lucky it can be crazy in a good way. The L’Oustal Blanc Naick 6 (the 6 is for 2006 vintage) is a white table wine that is crazy in numerous and fantastic ways. L’Oustal Blanc is a very interesting winery run by Claude Fonquerle, who grew up in the vineyards of the Languedoc and spent a number of years working in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. He, along with his winemaker, Philippe Cambie, is making some outstanding wines with fruit mostly sourced from Minervois and Minervois La Liviniere in the Languedoc. Their self proclaimed style is to go for “purity and complexity” in their wines, and with this L’Oustal Blanc Naick 6, they have certainly hit their mark. The L’Oustal Blanc Naick 6 is sourced from grapes in Minervois and Minervois La Liviniere, but it is sold as Vins de Table or table wine, which is generally the lowest classification in the French wine law. The reason for this is that Fonquerle and Cambie have gone with a non-traditional grape blend that doesn’t meet the AOC requirements for varietal use. The blend in this case is 95% Grenache Gris and 5% Macabeo. Grenache Gris is an uncommon relative of the red Grenache grape, and Macabeo is a varietal I’ve only seen in Spanish Cava before this wine. I’m not sure what gave L’Oustal Blanc the idea for this blend, but I’m here to tell you it works wonderfully! In your glass you see an intense golden color, almost to the point of looking like a dessert wine. The nose brings a lot of peach with a touch of orange and pineapple, that doesn’t smell nearly as tropical and fruity as that sounds. You also get some subtle oak on the nose. The palate brings some more of the same fruit and nicely done oak from the bouquet, but it also has a wonderful stony minerality and great acidity. The body is full, but somehow this wine is full bodied and refreshing at the same time, without being the least bit flabby. It’s almost as if you’ve taken the body of a California Chardonnay and the minerality and acidity of a great White Burgundy and somehow blended them together perfectly. That’s a crazy description for a wine that doesn't even have any Chardonnay grapes in it, but this is a wine like no other that I’ve had! It’s very unique with a wild mix of flavors and characteristics that all somehow combine to produce a beautifully balanced wine with a solid finish. L’Oustal Blanc’s English language website is filled with horrible translations from French, but in their own “Frenglish” way, their tasting notes get this much right, “The taste is wide, elegant, finely wooded, and fresh.” Retailing in the mid $30’s, this is no everyday wine, but it delivers excellent value and unbelievable complexity for the price. I had this with a baked chicken breast with artichoke pesto, and it worked pretty well, but with the complexity of flavor this wine had, I have to say I enjoyed it best after dinner all on its own. Cheers!

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