The Explore 4: Southern French Whites Gift Pack

The Explore 4: Southern French Whites Gift Pack

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Give the gift of “Explore 4” without the commitment!

SommSelect’s “Explore 4” surveys the vast landscape of wine and breaks it into small, digestible bites. Each month, we select four bottles that fit a theme, allowing members to experience a diversity of styles while developing their own palate preferences. It’s an ongoing exploration of wine through a sommelier’s eyes and there’s no more effective, and enjoyable, way to learn about wine.

This four-pack is a crash course in white wines from “Mediterranean” France. The wine regions of Languedoc-Roussillon, the Southern Rhône Valley, and Provence, collectively referred to as Occitanie, are mostly thought of as red (or rosé) country: Hot, dry growing conditions along the Mediterranean Coast favor later-ripening reds, but there are intriguing whites to be found if you’re willing to look. We put together an all-star lineup of French whites that’s perfect for summer—here’s what’s in the box:

Moulin de Gassac, Picpoul de Pinet 2022
Wine doesn’t get more “coastal” than Picpoul de Pinet, grown in low hills spread out around the Thau Lagoon. Moulin de Gassac is a second label from the Guibert family of Mas de Daumas Gassac, the pioneering estate in the Hérault region of the Languedoc. The project, initiated in 1991, was born out of the same desire to showcase the unique terroir of the region, with Daumas Gassac enologists and agronomists partnering with local growers—and a nearby winemaking cooperative—to produce a line of affordable, place-expressive wines.

Domaine Ray-Jane, IGP du Var Blanc 2022
On Le Plan du Castellet—the plateau above the village of Bandol, where Ray-Jane’s vineyards are located—you’re never more than a few miles from the Mediterranean. With constant sunshine and constant wind, grapes achieve even ripening while retaining vivid acidity, and the proximity to the sea imbues the local blancs with a saline edge. Soils are a mix of pebbly limestone and clay.

Domaine Gavoty, Côtes de Provence Blanc “Grand Classique” 2021
100% Rolle (a.k.a. Vermentino) from Gavoty’s limestone-rich vineyards, vinified and aged in a combination of concrete and steel tanks (the concrete lending softness to the texture). It’s a sumptuous style but also crisp and refreshing, as malolactic fermentation (the conversion of sharper malic acid to softer lactic acid) is blocked via temperature control. 

Domaine Lafond, Lirac Blanc “Roc Epine” 2021
This textured white is a blend of Grenache Blanc (50%), Roussanne (30%), and Viognier (20%). Grapes are hand-harvested, de-stemmed, and left to macerate briefly on their skins before a cool fermentation and aging in stainless steel. The wine is bottled early the following year to maximize freshness and primary fruit flavors. The glossy, full-bodied palate holds rich flavors of fresh peach, orange oil, grilled nuts, sweet almond, and herbal tea. A substantial, richly layered mouthfeel is highlighted by a gliding balance and rising, slow-motion acidity, framing the lingering aroma and viscous texture.

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