Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Marcel Lapierre Vin de Pays des Gaules

Given the comic nature of the artwork by Siné coupled with the good-spirited script on the label at right, one could be forgiven for thinking that Marcel Lapierre was indulging in a bit of Gallic wordplay with the release of his "country wine of the Gaules." That was my initial reaction upon first seeing Lapierre's new wine hit the US market earlier this year.

In actuality, though, Vin de Pays des Gaules is indeed a relatively new (about three years-old now), official (yet not widely approved of) addition to the INAO's short-list of large, regional VdP designations. The area covers Beaujolais in its entirety, plus, if I'm interpreting the map correctly, fringe portions of the Mâconnais and the Northern Rhône. Like most other VdP designations, it's much more forgiving/inclusive of grape varieties than the AOC system. Vin de Pays des Gaules allows for as many as 19 varieties, Syrah and Viognier among them, along with the more obvious Chardonnay and, of course, Gamay, which alone constitutes upward of 95% of the plantings in question.

The primary objectives of the new Vin de Pays des Gaules designation, as with the similar and simultaneous creation of Vin de Pays de l'Atlantique for the greater Bordeaux region, are two-fold: to reduce the overall quantity (theoretically thereby raising the overall quality) of AOC wines being produced in the region and to create a category of simpler, easier to drink, less expensive wines. In two regions where the market is already awash in inexpensive, innocuous and often sub-par quality wines, though, I'm not sure the creation of these new VdPs does anything more than further muddy the already murky waters for those faced with marketing largely unwanted wines to an ever-increasingly competitive world market.

In the case of Lapierre's wine, though, I'm not going to argue with the results.

Vin de Pays des Gaules, Marcel Lapierre 2008
$15. 12.5% alcohol. Stelvin. Importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, CA.
I've already seen retailers succumb to the temptation of referring to Lapierre's Vin de Pays des Gaules, which is varietal Gamay by the way, as "Morgon Junior." Who could blame them, I suppose. But in practice, Lapierre has actually captured the spirit of simplicity that's idealistically intended by the new VdP. While I've never had any problem drinking (as opposed to "tasting") Lapierre's Morgon, this is even more eminently easy-drinking wine. Vin de Pays de Gulpable, if you will. Crisp, light and snappy, it lacks the depth of the Morgon but is still full of flavor, with early season raspberry fruit laced with bright, refreshing citrus zest and herbal nuances.

It's unmistakably the product of carbonic maceration and fermentation, yet, as with all of Lapierre's wines, the grapes are fermented on their native yeasts, so there's no trace of the telltale banana aromas so oft associated with carbonic wines. It's hard to imagine a more uncomplicated pour that's still wine-y rather than grape-y. Great served with a stiff chill, this would make for a great summertime BBQ and/or porch wine. For now, it goes down just as easy with a good old Monday night pizza.


Samantha Dugan said...

I've yet to see this...gonna call my Kermit rep today.

David McDuff said...

Howdy Sam,
There's a good chance the '08 is gone by now but the 2009 should be available now or soon.

bill l said...

where did you find it?

David McDuff said...

In my glass, of course!

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