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Monday, January 16, 2012

Bordeaux Garage Wines?

Some of you may be scratching your head on this one.  Yes, I do mean garage….like the kind in which you park you car.  The term was coined in the 1990’s in Bordeaux to describe small, innovative producers who were making wines in their garages.  Garagistes, as the winemakers were called, were rebel rousers who bucked the traditional style of highly tannic Bordeaux that required long aging.  This group on wine-making renegades wanted more fruit-forward, bigger, bolder wines to reflect the changing international palate.

Garagistes typically produce miniscule quantities from quite low yielding vineyards---both factors influencing supply and demand, and hence, accounting for their generally stratospheric prices.  There is minimal manipulation during the “birthing process” of the wine, which means little racking, no filtering and no fining (a process used to make the wines clearer).

Thanks to Robert Parker, many of these garage wines have a cult-like following.  In 1995 Parker rated some of the garagiste wines higher than Chateau Petrus… and the wine world has been topsy-turvy ever since.  Some feel the garage wines are nothing but fruit bombs with high alcohol that are for collectors rather than wine drinkers.   One writer described their popularity as “ The Emperor’s New Clothes” syndrome.

Here are my favorite “Vins du garage: "    Rol Valentin, La Gomerie and La Mondotte.  If you’re lucky enough to find them be sure to bring beaucoup Euro’s.

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