From February 20-23, the wine world’s eyes were turned towards Montpellier, in the south of France, and the biennial Vinisud wine salon. More than 33,000 wine buyers, journalists, sommeliers and oenologues attended the event. A selection of wine from 1,700 winemakers across the Mediterranean basin, predominately French, but also Italian, Spanish, Greek, and North African, was available to taste.
The event was launched by a pre-Vinisud, Mediterranean buffet and jam session organized by the Vinifilles, a group of 18 female winemakers. An all-you-can-eat oyster bar, wine from the 18 wine domaines run by these women, and music by an all-girl vocal group, Les Gazalles de Bruxelles, that sings in Occitan, and an excellent rock group aptly named La Mal Coiffée (“mal coiffée” translates as “bad hair day” in French, and the musicians in this group do sport Beetle-era haircuts) set the pace for the next three days.
The attitude and atmosphere at this year’s Vinisud was palpably more positive than the 2010 version that I attended, where there seemed to be an overall sense of despair and depression. Maybe the economy is shaking off the feeling of recession, or perhaps the region’s move towards producing quality-over-quantity wine is paying off at last. The fact that 40% more buyers (18,780 in 2012 vs. 13,100 in 2010) were pre-registered to attend the event shows increased interest for Mediterranean basin wines.
I’ll write, over the next few weeks, about some of the highlights at Vinisud, but I first wanted to mention the top event for me, a Corsican Master Tasting Class with wine from several Corsican winemakers whom I’ve already written about in this blog. Meilleur Sommelier du Monde 2000 Olivier Poussier directed the tasting, which was organized by the CIV-Corse, the professional association of wine producers and buyers on the island.
The 80 wine buyers and journalists in attendance tasted wines from 11 Corsican domaines, including Clos Culombu, Clos Canarelli, Domaine Giacometti, Domaine Leccia and Domaine Torraccia. Standouts included a Clos Canarelli white vermentino from 2010 and a 2009 red (20% syrah, 70% niellucio, 5% sciaccarello and 5% carcajiolo) from the same producer. Both had the clean, crisp, mouth-filling properties, balanced by the fruity aromas (citrus for the white, fresh red fruit for the red), and the incredibly long finish that make Yves Canarelli’s wines so refreshingly distinctive.
Another memorable wine from this tasting was an AOC Muscat du Cap Corse from Domaine Leccia. Despite the 100-or-so grams of residual sugar present, this Muscat was clean and fresh, with hardly any perceptible sugar on the palate. Delicious white flower aromas and a taut mineral edge nicely balanced its voluptuous nature, and there was even a touch of citrus fruit on the finish.
The only thing that would have made it even better would have been a piece of Corsican bruccio whey cheese, much like Italian ricotta, which is made from sheep or goat milk. This young, white cheese is delicious with such a refreshing, not-cloyingly sweet Muscat.