Thursday, February 07, 2008


On this year's tour, I'm not just going to be talking about my latest books, but introducing the wines of Gaillac to the world. This little-known wine-producing region of South-West France is where "The Critic" is set.

I received wonderful help and support from the wine producers there during my researches for the book. From two producers in particular: brothers, Hubert and Pierric de Faramond of Chateau Lastours, and brothers Laurent and Fabien Causse of Domaine Sarrabelle.

Characters from both vineyards somehow magically morphed into characters in the book through the mysterious processes of fiction writing. But the wines made it into the book without any fictionalizing from me.

And so, during my tour, I wanted not only to give a talk about the book, but to invite my readers to join me in tastings of the Gaillac wines that feature in the story. Unfortunately very few wines from Gaillac actually make it to the States. Which is a shame, because there are some fabulous undiscovered wines, at extremely good prices. And I just know the Americans would love them.

So, through a process of diligence and persistence, I finally managed to interest an American importer in bringing in Gaillac wines for my tour - and beyond.

The importer is a man called Peter Weygandt, of Weygandt-Metzler. They are based in Pennsylvania but import to almost all of the states we are visiting. Peter Weygandt himself is a highly respected wine-taster whose choice of wines receives the full-hearted endorsement of Robert Parker - the world's No1 wine critic.

So when he decided to import the wines of Domaine Sarrabelle that was quite an accolade for Fabien and Laurent Causse, who grow their grapes on 37 hectares of rolling land on the north side of the River Tarn. Because he didn't just take my word for the quality of the wine. He had some shipped to taste for himself. And so impressed was he, that last week he went all the way to France to meet the winemakers and taste their wines in the vineyard itself.

He loved them.

But importing wine is no easy task - especially to the United States, where every state has different laws governing the importation, sale, and consumption of alcohol. So it has been a last-minute rush to try to get the wines here on time - and it looks like we might just have succeeded

While the main shipment won't arrive in time for the start of the tour, Domaine Sarrabelle, in cooperation with Weygandt-Metzler, are air-freighting 72 bottles of wine from Gaillac to California so that we have genuine Gaillac wines to taste at the early events.

There are two reds:

The Sarrabelle Syrah, which as you might imagine, is compose mostly of Syrah.

And the Saint Andre, which is produced 100 percent from the Braucol grape, which is one of the signature grapes of the Gaillac AOC.

In addition, there will be a white, produced from one of the signature white grapes - Mauzac

These grapes, along with others like Duras and Loin d l'oeil, are what give Gaillac wines their very distinctive flavours. A little different from Bordeaux and Burgundy, but every bit as good - even if they aren't as well-known.

So, it is with bated breath - after much e-mail to-ing and fro-ing - that we await the arrival next week of the first Gaillacs.

And I'm really looking forward to a taste of home.

1 comment:

Carol and Chris said...

I want you to know that when you finally manage to visit I will be expecting you to bring a couple of bottles with you!!! (They sound fab!!)

C x