“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand” Neil Armstrong

In the hands of a master, simple clay becomes a work of art.  And we are left to wonder and appreciate and ponder upon how it was accomplished.  Gilles Baumann with the help of his daughter, Laurie, are masters of humble grapes.  Blending Columbard, Ugni Blanc and Gros Manseng they include some Sauvignon Blanc and create a white wine (Domaine Des Cassagnoles) of distinction.  It is summertime in a glass. And it all happens in Southwest France, an under-appreciated region, which perhaps accounts for its “Mizerly” pricing.  It is my summer value of the year and should be considered my “insider tip” for 2018.

Columbard is the offspring of Chenin Blanc and Gouais Blanc and is used almost exclusively as a blending grape.  It’s relatively neutral in character, not important in the making of table wine and used in the production of cognac and Armagnac. It is noted for its acidity and used all too often in the production, domestically,  of “jug wine.”  Ugni Blanc is better known as Trebbiano in Italy. While it offers fruity and citrusy aromas, it too is noted for its acidity. Gros Manseng can add some flavorful notes, notably apricot and quince, but is noted for its acidity also.  Add in Sauvignon Blanc and you might conclude this wine was acidic enough to leech the enamel off your teeth.

It’s not.

And the plot builds:

In a blind taste, you would be forgiven for guessing this wine to be Sauvignon Blanc.  Less minerality than a Sancerre.  Less grapefruit and grass than a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, but Sauvignon Blanc from somewhere.  South Africa?  No, that’s not it.  But Sauvignon Blanc nonetheless. Yet Sauvignon Blanc comprises the smallest percentage of the blend.  Columard could be (depending upon the character of each vintage and the winemaker’s decision) as much as 40-50%, Ugni Blanc (30%) and Gros Manseng (20-25%).  So assuming each vintage is comprised of the upside of typical, the blend is already at 105%.  At the lower end, the percentage left for Sauvignon Blanc is only 10%. 

The mystery then is how all these acidic, somewhat neutral grapes come to make such a delicious wine? One with a clean mineral edge.  Crisp and zesty, but not overly sharp or acidic, it’s balanced with unripe white peach on the palate.  The lime is creamily subdued and rounded as in a lime meringue pie.  Lemon, green apple, white flowers, tangerine and green herbs greet the nose and carry on to the palate. Grassy notes and grapefruit are detected on the palate also but so classically French: in balance with the fruit, working harmoniously in a textured symphony, each note contributing to the whole of the experience.  A hint of pineapple offset by unsweet kiwi.

Quaffable, but offering complexity uncommon for these grapes, one is left to wonder how it was accomplished.  I first experienced this wine by tasting the last of what was on the shelves from the 2016 vintage.  So impressed was I that I ordered a case. But the 16s were to be no more. I approved an order for a case of the 2017. With an average retail price if $9.99, the risk was small – made even less so by the retailer selling it at just $7.29 a bottle.  Inexpensive wine can be good.  And good wine is always good, though not always inexpensive. But very good wine that is inexpensive is always a joyous find.  I’m very glad I found this one and I’m happy to share it with you.

………………. Jim
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ALC:                     12%
Closure:                Twist Off
Wine:                    White Blend
Grapes estate grown, each variety vinified separately. Small skin maceration for the Columbard and Gros Manseng.  Pneumatic pressing, cold stabilization, fermentation at 18c (64.4F). Aging in tank until bottled.

Baumann’s Cassagnoles is a consistent Medaille D’Or winner in Eauze (the local competition) and Paris, as well as three star and Coup de Coeur in Guide Hachette.

Estate grown and bottled from their Lutte raisonnée farmed vines, certified by Haute Valeur Environnementale (HVE).

Imported by:      WEYGANDT-METZLER
My belle-souer (sister-in-law)  has access to the best brats on the
planet as the meat comes from her farm and the brats are
 made from a local packing house.  The Domaine Des
Cassagnoles is so food-friendly it cleanses the palate from
 many different dishes (here, the swiss cheese in the brats)
and accompanies the diner as would a favorite re-born hero at your table.

Eating light for summer?  Tuna salad is a childhood comfort food like warm tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich is in the winter, except I wasn't drinking white wine when I was seven. . A perfect foil to the mayonnaise is the Domaine Des Cassagnoles.

You may not agree (after all, all palates are personal and correct for the persons owning them), but I "practice what I preach" and, for me, this wine is case-worthy.

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