Heads, Chemin de Moscou; tails, Sélection Grenache Gris.
Though both IGP Pays d’Oc, they are as different as the two sides of a shiny coin, but offer the ultimate in pleasure.
Chemin de Moscou, the iconic label by Domaine Gayda in Brugairolles, Aude, has been a resounding success since its inception. It is named after a path that leads from the village to the top of a hill. “There was a tree at the top that acted as a beacon for the intrepid pioneers of the air mail routes and this is where we built our winery in 2004”, recalls Vincent Chansault, the winemaker and co-founder of an estate where a breath of fresh air blows, literally and figuratively. Right off the bat, Chemin de Moscou went against the grain of French appellation conventions, focusing on a blend of Syrah (the majority varietal), Grenache and Cinsault grown over a patchwork of soil types and climates, including limestone soils in La Livinière, schist in the Col de la Dona, gneiss in Latour de France and calcareous sandstone in Brugairolles.
A turning point
Without disavowing its inimitable style, Chemin de Moscou has turned a new page in its history. “In 2017, the earliest and one of the most successful vintages at the estate, we started to vary the vessels used for maturing our wine over 24 months, using 500-litre casks, wooden vats, amphorae and eggs”, continues Vincent Chansault. The resultant wine, now the 2018 vintage, is a high-end red fermented with no added sulphur and delivering an assertively open, rounded, supple style. Its impeccably balanced, intense aromatic expression of dark fruits and spices, complexity and length on the palate make it a wine that can be savoured now – or in 15 years’ time!
This is not the only surprise lurking among Domaine Gayda’s IGP Pays d’Oc portfolio. Tasted blind, it is difficult to know exactly what wine is behind the Sélection Grenache Gris label. Turns out, it’s a one-of-a-kind white wine made from old vines in the Opoul winegrowing site in the Pyrenees-Orientales. “In 2014, we decided to hive off the Grenache Gris during harvesting, then use very gentle, whole-cluster pressing and fermentation in 16-hectolitre eggs so that it could develop the fat characters of a lees-aged wine, with a totally hands-off approach”, explains the person who transformed an experiment into a stroke of genius. Vincent Chansault successfully created a very fresh wine from red clay soils that are renowned for their heat. The 2018 Sélection Grenache Gris displays extraordinary aromas, acidity and minerality and not only encapsulates the vintage, the site, the grape variety and the vineyard block, it also mirrors constant research in the winery. It is the jewel in the crown of a boutique range, which is often gone in a heartbeat – yet another reason to taste it without further ado!