The beauty of wine is that this ancient beverage continues to renew and refresh itself, delighting connoisseurs and casual consumers alike with unanticipated surprises around every corner. There is always something new to learn about wine, a new varietal, a new growing region, and a new appellation. I was recently introduced to the French wine term garrigue, and as I am always seeking to educate myself, I decided to do some investigation. I hope you enjoy what I discovered.
Garrigue is not a wine varietal or grape type. Rather the term garrigue refers to a particular type of scrubby brush land that predominates around sloping, hilly Mediterranean coastal regions in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Israel and other countries.
Natalie Maclean describes garrigue as “the aromas of rosemary, lemon verbena, lavender and marjoram that perfume the air of southern France.” Alder Yarrow says the term describes an “incredible melange of scents.”
As you might expect, there are many health benefits to foods cultivated in these regions, where rosemary, thyme and other fragrant scrub bushes grow prominently. The weather is generally moderate, but can range to very cold and dry, forcing plants and animals to be hardier than most. Also, the limestone and other minerals prevalent in this region produce great health value through the plants.
The reason we now hear this term in relationship to wine is that it refers to the flavorful, earthy, salty and pungent aromas and flavors often found in garrigue wines.
Yarrow says that “Garrigue features prominently in many wines of southern France, its burst of heady herbs often leaping from a glass of Gigondas or Bandol…Intertwined with aromas of fruit and earth, the savory notes of garrigue can lift a wine from the realm of delicious to the plane of irresistible.”
So whether you are sampling the cuisine of Greece, France or Spain, have no doubt that in the masterful design of nature a garrigue wine will pair incomparably.
I would love to hear your thoughts about, and experiences with, garrigue wines.