The Magic of Gris de Gris
by Jane Augustine
People often wonder, myself included, how Fontsainte’s Gris de Gris can be so good. What sort of sorcery must be involved to consistently offer a wine that is so flawless, so satisfying, and so deliriously value-driven year in and year out?
The domaine’s vineyards happen to be situated in the remote “Golden Crescent” area of Les Corbières. Flanked by a pine forest that protects from harsh winds, this pristine, sun-drenched vignoble benefits from Mediterranean sea breezes and a gravelly soil with large, polished stones that regulate temperature. “In the early morning,” says Bruno Laboucarié, “while the air is still humid, there is this perfume of pine resin and rock roses, of rosemary and thyme, and aromatic heather that warms up above the vineyard.” Every scent that Bruno describes shows up in the glass, which makes his approach to winegrowing crystal-clear: great wine is made in the vineyard. There are no tricks!
As for the eponymous variety that makes up most of the blend, Grenache Gris is a pink-skinned, more characterful version of Grenache Blanc that ripens into a bouquet of fresh nectarine, white cherries, and bergamot. The pale juice released from gently pressing the grapes immediately after harvest preserves the fruit’s delicate aromas and transforms into a delicious rosé, purely and simply.
Though part of the appeal of Fontsainte’s Gris de Gris is that it’s so drinkable on its own—with just a beach read, or some lawn games to pass the time—its adaptability to food only bolsters its charm. Richer fare is lifted by its juicy acidity, salty foods are washed clean. Try it with crisp cold radishes dipped in soft butter, or brinier foods like cracked crabs, pissaladière, or fresh sardines drizzled in olive oil.