We know choosing the right wine to gift a loved one or to serve your holiday guests can be stressful. You want to try something out of the ordinary but not confusing. We also know relaxation isn’t easy these days.
But try to relax, fellow wine drinkers. It’s time to absorb some of the Mediterranean vibes from Costières de Nîmes. Jerome Castillon of Château l’Ermite d’Auzan sums it up well in a way that is hard to resist: “We are proud of our traditions, our architecture, our gastronomy, our country, and our way of life. Discover our wines and the personality of our people: generous, friendly, and with a great respect for nature.”
If you’re just discovering Costières de Nîmes, you are about to get a glass full of ancient history, prehistoric terroir, and a wine-making tradition that goes back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Better yet, you will also be meeting your new favorite go-to wines for daily drinking, gifts, and the holiday season.
Ancient Rome & Modern Mediterranean Culture (With a French Accent)
The Costières de Nîmes AOC is located at the southernmost part of the Rhône Valley where the Rhône, Gardon, and Durance rivers converge into one, flowing out into the Mediterranean Sea. When the Romans conquered this part of France in 150 B.C., the locals had already been taught winemaking by the Greeks. The Romans kept the tradition going by planting more vines and streamlining production and storage. The clay vessels dating back to 100 B.C. used for storing the wine can be found in museums now, giving us a peek into that wine-centric society.
“History is an important part of our life, even if we don’t always realize it,” Cyril Mares, winemaker for Mas des Bressades, tells VinePair. “We live in the middle Roman Renaissance buildings and make wine on an estate that’s been making wine for 2,000 years. I consider myself not the owner of the land but just one of many farmers and winemakers. This thought helps to keep modesty but it’s also a strength.”
What to Drink With Your Holiday Dinners
Fun fact: Costières de Nîmes is the only southern Rhône AOC where Syrah beats out Grenache as far as planted acreage. The reds are mostly Syrah with a lesser amount of Grenache and a touch of Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Carignan — but not that super-sweet, “baked cobbler” Syrah we may be more familiar with. Because of the Mediterranean climate, the Syrah is more like bright purple violets. Fresher and sunnier, and who doesn’t need that in their lives?
“Our wines breathe the Mediterranean with lots of wild aromas and flavors like our local herbs, trees, and licorice.” Mares tells VinePair. “You don’t get just wine but a part of our terroir with sun, pebbles, flavors, and history.”
The reds are elegant but so easy to drink. This year try a Syrah/Grenache blend with your holiday ham and turkey instead of the standard recommendation of Pinot Noir. Imagine the Mediterranean lifestyle as your distant relatives grill you on your personal life’s decisions; enjoy grilled root vegetables instead and tune it out.
“The wines of Nîmes are nicknamed the ”4x4s” of wine because of their ability to work with different meals. Beautiful structure and beautiful fruit,” Fanny Boyer, winemaker at Château Beaubois, says. Similar to Cabernet, the standard American “go-to” when it comes to holiday dinners or gifts, but with more depth and maturity. “Cab is lovely but the GSM (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre) blend is magic,” Castillon says. “These are some great grapes creating great wines.”
Old Friends in Town? Bring This
The holidays have a tendency to bring old friends together. Take a break from visiting with the family to introduce your foodie friends to the complexity of the white wines from Costières de Nîmes. A late-night wine and cheese board hang-out with high school pals (or even an old flame) captures the casual feel of the Mediterranean.
The sea-tinged whites are a no-brainer when paired with the traditional Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes. Replace your Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay with varietals like Marsanne, Roussanne, or Grenache Blanc. According to Castillon, “Grenache Blanc has the body of Chardonnay and Roussanne has the freshness of Sauvignon Blanc. And with the slight saltiness it gets from the sea winds, it is wonderful with fish.”
Castillon is in the 10th generation of winegrowers in his family. “Since Roman times, our vineyard has existed,” he says. “ So wine is our culture and our family’s passion. It’s in our family’s blood.”
Rosé for Gifting Is a Sure Thing
Rosé has (finally!) become popular to enjoy year-round. Celebrate this achievement by gifting bottles of rosé from Costières de Nîmes this year. Everyone loves to get a gift with some thought put into it and this out-of-the-ordinary appellation is a great choice.
The rosés are slightly darker than what you may see from the more well-known Provence. But choose a Costières de Nîmes rosé for a rounder mouthfeel and a tingly freshness. The aromatics are beautiful along with the color it gets from more skin contact. The style is still light enough for daytime drinking but with enough body to drink with your Thanksgiving turkey. Winemaker Boyer adds, “It’s a combination of the terroir and the grape varietals that make them gourmet, fruity, and always very fresh and versatile.”
Bring the Sunshine
This year, gift a bottle of wine from Costières de Nîmes and introduce these versatile reds, whites, and rosés to a fellow wine drinker. The wines are made with centuries of tradition, unique varietals, and most definitely love. Serve these wines on your holiday table and bring everyone to that southern French city where the sun shines 300 days a year.
This article is sponsored by Costières de Nîmes.