The Essence of Wine: Garrigue

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

Through crystalline blue skies, the sun all but drips onto your welcoming skin. With eyes closed, you are nudged by a soft breeze, whose caress brings with it a perfume unlike any other. Redolent with sage, thyme, rosemary, lavender, and juniper, the landscape reaches for you with invisible fingers, stimulating, salivating, and ultimately seducing. This is Provence, its scrubby hills laden with weeds that have made possible some of the world’s most enduring flavors and aromas. The French have not only given us this precious landscape, they have also given us the word that describes this incredible melange of scents: garrigue. Perhaps unsurprisingly, garrigue features prominently in many wines of southern France, its burst of heady herbs often leaping from a glass of Gigondas or Bandol. But Provence has no monopoly on the aroma, which appears most often in red wines, and sometimes most prominently after a few years in the cellar. Intertwined with aromas of fruit and earth, the savory notes of garrigue can lift a wine from the realm of delicious to the plane of irresistible.

Perrin et Fils Chateau Beaucastel Red Blend, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, France
Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux “Cuvee Doucinello,” Vacqueyras (Rhone), France
Domaine Joseph Roty “Fontenys” Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy, France
Domaine de Nizas “Mas Salleles” Vin de Pays, Languedoc, France
Domaine Tempier “La Migoua,” Rouge, Bandol, France
Torbreck “The Steading” Rhone Blend, Barossa, South Australia
Yarra Yering “Underhill” Shiraz Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
Panther Creek “Freedom Hill Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA
Cooper Garrod “R.V.’s Fine Claret” Bordeaux Blend, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, USA

This is part of an ongoing series of original images and prose called The Essence of Wine