The bottle was weird. There, I said it. The glass was clear, the wine was a deep garnet and the cork was synthetic green. The label showed a caricature of two (presumably) French dudes stomping grapes and strumming a Picasso-like guitar. On the back label, the words “Gypsy Melody” were written at the top followed by the appellation of this wine: Vin de Pays de l’Herault. I had never heard of a table wine from l’Herault. This was not promising, and yet I was oddly drawn to this bottle from the day it was delivered from our friends at the Organic Wine Company. So, on a particularly warm winter night in January, I decided that a funky red wine from a strange appellation with a weird label in a white wine bottle would be my drink of choice. How’s that for preconceived notions?
The rest of this story is a love affair, I assure you. From the minute I poured this wine into my glass my disposition changed. I’ve been on streak of some bad wines lately but I just approached this wine with cautious optimism. In the glass, that garnet color seemed even deeper and reminded me a bit of that cherry syrup you put over shaved ice on a hot summer day. I like shaved ice – that’s a compliment. On the nose, there were hints of strawberries and some deep fruit, but since this wine is 13% alcohol there was not a ton of heat coming off of it. The subtly of the nose threw me off a bit from such a vibrant color.
With my first sip, it seemed someone had just dropped a ton of fruit into my glass. It was startling. Intense, jammy flavors of ripe cherry and strawberry coated my palate without the faintest hint of being over-oaked. I did not expect that strong and lively a combination of flavors from something that smelled so simple and restrained. There was something mysterious yet playful about this wine, perhaps influenced by its “Gypsy Melody” name. I was smelling one thing and tasting another. I loved it for what it was. A really fun, playful and lively table wine from a region I had never heard of before.
I did a little research and found that the appellation of vin de pays l’herault was the same place in the south of France (the Languedoc to be exact) where the famous Mas de Daumas Gassac came from. I love Languedoc wines so it was fitting that I loved this one as well. Honestly, I can’t even tell you grapes are in there. Maybe some cabernet franc, some grenache, heck, even a bit of gamay (hence the strawberries) but really, I don’t care. I’d buy cases of this wine and bring it to parties just to show off the funky label and weird clear glass bottle. I’m ok with all that now. There, I said it.