“La Garrigue" (NV)
$24.00 per bottle / $259.20 per case
$20.40 per bottle / $230.40 per case (Members)
I’m not sure exactly how I came to the febrile notion of chaptalizing (French) Colombard must with a different varieties (twenty-four, if memory serves) of honey, many (more than twenty, maybe closer to thirty) years ago.
Back in the day, we were still producing Chardonnay (!!!), and had numerous white barrels in the cellar, which we used for the first “La Garrigue.” I remember that one had to be incredibly careful in pouring honey into the bungholes of the barrel; it was an incredibly messy process, and the honey, of course, like Original Sin, stuck to just about everything. Now, this is fairly typical of me – to do my research after the deed is doon – but I actually looked up Dr. Chaptal’s original article on his practice the day after the honey went in. In his article he suggested that cane sugar was the preferred source of glucose + fructose, beet sugar as also acceptable (not quite as well regarded), but under no circumstances, should one use honey. (Now he tells me.) I ultimately worked out the nature of his objection: the use of honey can form glucans in the wine, stringy strands that are less than aesthetically appealing (and the French are nothing if not committed to limpidity in all things), but the use of glucosidase enzymes (presumably unknown in Chaptal’s time) obviates the issue.
The word “garrigue” had just entered my vocabulary via Kermit Lynch and his vivid newsletters, and the notion that ambient vegetation could somehow play a role in a wine’s fragrance rather captivated me. Now, introducing floral elements into wine through an exogenous source, i.e. honey, is another kettle of romorantin. (I had also read at the same time that honey had certain interesting anti-oxidative properties, and I was, even then, quite keen on making wines with lower levels of SO2), but I (at least at the time) was always looking for complexity and the side-benefit of épater-ing the Crew bourgeois.
So, we’ve doon it again.