Why we love the Languedoc - a Domaine Gayda tasting
Presented by Emily Silva and Thomas Fowler
The Oxford Wine Company, 165 Botley Road, Oxford, OX2 6PB
It was on the sunniest, longest day of the year that Thomas and I welcomed twelve thirsty individuals to the Botley Road shop, ready to taste six wines from Domaine Gayda.
Fresh from a trip to the estate the previous week, I was full of enthusiasm and new-found knowledge to impart. Thomas, studious and conscientious as ever, had been swotting up, and was ready to answer even the most obscure of questions on the six wines we had selected from Domaine Gayda.
The tasting began with the Flying Solo Grenache Blanc/Viognier, a wine that manages to be a crowd-pleaser without becoming boring - not an easy feat! Named in a homage to the Aeropostale pilots of the 1920s, this wine was a hit with the whole group.
We moved on to the Cépage Viognier, an aromatic fruit-bomb that was described in the official tasting note as having 'an explosive nose' (!) Luckily there were no exploding noses amongst the group, who generally enjoyed the wine.
The Figure Libre Chenin Blanc came next - a rich, balanced wine with plenty of depth. This wine had a touch of Noble Rot, which provided the perfect opportunity to indulge in a little wine geekery as we explained the effects of this funky strain of fungus to the group.
Moving on to the red wines, we begun with another Flying Solo - this time a blend of Grenache Noir and Syrah. Thomas explained the characteristics of both grapes, demonstrating how the two made a perfect partnership in a blend. More wine geekery ensued, as Thom pointed out the Beaujolais-like note of confectionary in the wine, and we discussed the process of carbonic maceration.
Our next wine was a bit of a staff favourite at OWC - the Figure Libre Cabernet Franc. This is a fuller bodied expression of the classic Loire Valley red grape, and spends time in oak barrels, adding complexity and softness to the classic berry, red pepper and pencil shaving characteristic of Cabernet Franc. This wine is produced fully organically, and bottling and racking takes place according to the phases of the moon. This afforded us a perfect opportunity to get a bit spiritual, as we discussed the principals behind Biodynamic viticulture.
Our final wine from the Domaine Gayda selection was the estate's flagship bottles, the Chemin de Moscou. This blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault spends a massive 21 months in oak barrels of varying sizes before release, and showed amazing complexity and aromatics. Domaine Gayda has a connection with the legendary South African estate Boekenhoutskloof, and Marc Kent, the winemaker there, visits Gayda every year to help with the blending of the Chemin de Moscou. We all agreed it was the wine of the night!
Buoyed by tasting six great wines, and by the response of a fantastic crowd, we decided to go a little off-piste for the end of the tasting. We'd been talking about the connection between Gayda and Boekenhoutskloof, so why not end the night with a sample of The Chocolate Block? This iconic wine from the South African estate had a similar blend to the Chemin de Moscou, and provided a great opportunity for a comparison. We have to say, that on the night, we all thought the Gayda wine came out on top!
All in all, this was a great tasting, that showcased six wonderful wines from a wonderful estate, and confirmed why we should all love the Languedoc.