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If you could bottle all the romance of summer in the south of France—the dazzling sunlight of a Cezanne painting and the warm sea breeze blowing through hillsides of lavender and thyme—you’d wind up with something a bit like Pierre Vidal’s beautiful expression of the Costières de Nîmes appellation. A little-known sub-region at the southernmost edge of the Rhône valley, with a history of wine-production that date back to the ancient Greeks, the region combines all the juicy friendliness of a more familiar Côtes du Rhône with a wild, almost rustic streak that speaks of its southerly Mediterranean origins.
This untamed quality runs throughout all of Pierre’s wines, which practically sing of their place of origin. If you get the chance to drive around the region in Pierre’s jeep, you will stop at a multitude of geographies and see why the stones and other aspects of his organically-certified vineyards make his wine just so. A typical blend of 60% Grenache with roughly equal parts of the Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes, it’s a fleshy but elegant wine, with an enveloping core of spicy dark berries and a firm grip of tannins. But beyond the fruit, it’s the expression of the soil that gives the wine its true identity. This first comes across as a whiff of what the locals call “garrigue,” the combination of brushy herbs and botanicals that grow wild there along the side of the road; then finally, on the finish, it announces itself in terms of a perceptible mineral quality, suggesting the flinty pebbles (called grés) that litter Pierre’s vineyards.
Above all, this is the Platonic ideal of a “food wine,” best appreciated with rich and hearty dishes. While grilled lamb kabobs are an obvious pairing, it’s equally comfortable washing down a hot slice of pepperoni pizza as it is accompanying a perfectly medium-rare filet at your next dinner party. Mary recommends using a wide-rimmed glass to let the wine soften and evolve over the course of an entire meal.