I was in Nice a couple of months ago and, because I had the car with me, I stopped by La Part des Anges, a well-known wine shop filled-to-bursting with natural wines, to stock up.
Whilst I love the diversity of wine made in Italy, that same diversity means that it is particularly hard to import wine here because there are so few gaps in the market. Besides Champagne and some of the usual big names, there are many French wines that I can’t find anymore and that I miss.
French natural wines are very much a double-edged sword for me. Some famous names bring back memories still too raw for me to be able to swallow… but others remind me of my time at the Caves Augé without feeling like I’m being stabbed in the stomach with every sip.
Domaine Gramenon is a prime example of the latter category and when I saw a bottle of their “L’élémentaire” on the shelf at a good price, I snapped it up straight away. Boy, am I glad I did.
It’s exactly the type of wine that I would love to make… if I made wine, that is. It has such a highly aromatic nose; a fruit bomb of berries and cherries with an undertone of something deeper and more animal.
On the palate, it is infinitely drinkable. I had to physically remove the bottle from the table to stop us from up-ending it and devouring every drop within seconds. It’s a super example of natural wine: no detectable faults, medium-bodied (read: not carbo-juice) and vibrant. The Goldilocks of balance ; soft, silky tannins which hold up superbly under the acidity.
The Gramenon website says that this wine is 75% grenache and 25% syrah, spent 15 days, partially destemmed, in concrete for the maceration. When tasted blind, I had guessed a higher proportion of syrah grapes because there’s a spicy and light leather aroma which just added to the complexity.
I am kicking myself for having only bought one bottle of L’élémentaire. My (Italian) boyfriend is probably happy about this situation as it means I won’t chew his ear off for a second time, whining about why Italian natural wine makers haven’t adopted this style…. yet?