La Tarasque Wines
2010 Côtes du Rhône
Winemaker of the Year
We are honored, today, to be showcasing a very exciting wine from 2012 Winemaker of the Year, Aaron Pott. His made-in-France La Tarasque 2010 Côtes du Rhône is a stellar blend that reflects Aaron’s life-long love affair with the Rhône.
Named for an ancient mythical creature that plagued farmers and ate rural peasants, today’s very highly recommended offering is one sexy beast of a wine. La Tarasque is an elegant and beautiful wine that straddles new world style and old world sensibilities. This exceptional wine is neither overly fruit-driven nor overly austere. Rather, it strikes a harmonious balance.
Aaron Pott is a Napa Valley legend who has made wines for Quintessa, Blackbird Vineyards, Quixote, Seven Stones Winery, St. Helena Winery, Fisher Vineyards, Stagecoach Vineyard, Bello Family Vineyards, Jericho Canyon Vineyard and his own Pott Wine - to name just a few.
When not honing his craft in America, Aaron spent ample time working in France, developing his love for French wine while learning the winemaking skills of the country.
His delicious and balanced La Tarasque wine, a blend of Grenache and Syrah, is made from vines that are as old as 30 years old. This food friendly (and very highly recommended) wine can be paired with nearly anything, but if you are an ancient Gallic peasant… RUN!
(Don’t worry, no peasants were harmed in the making of this wine)
Beautiful translucent crimson with bright ruby edges. Dark garnet hues through the heart of the wine.
Wild strawberry, black currant, dark chocolate, black cherry cordial, and dark French roast coffee all combine to give the wine a layered and complex nose. Underneath these, the wine shows off a soft toastiness.
Perfectly balanced with concentrated black fruits of braised plum, black currant and black cherry. Caramel, ground French roast coffee beans, and a hint of toasty vanilla round out the flavors.
Very lush and very persistent, with red fruit and earthy flavors dwindling in even proportion. Integrated tannins don’t rip the moisture from your mouth. Instead, the tannins provide a lovely texture that leads to a wonderful mouthwatering sensation.
We’d love to enjoy this French beauty with a traditional ratatouille or a rich beef Bourguignon.
What the Winery Says
A sensual, old-vine Grenache-dominated blend of elegance and structure, named for the notorious beast that ravaged the medieval countryside of the Côtes du Rhône. According to legend, the dragon was a reluctant tyrant, gladly saved by the soothing hymns and prayers of Saint Martha.
I’ve crafted this wine inspired by the creature coaxed by St. Martha’s hand; unmasking the beast for a spirited wine of complexity and suppleness.
- Aaron Pott
- Côtes du Rhône, France
- Vineyard Designation
- Hand selected from 10 different vineyards within the Southern Rhône
- Varietal Composition
- 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah
About the Winery
THE BACK STORY: A CONVERSATION WITH AARON POTT
My love affair with Rhône wine and thus the story behind La Tarasque begins with my first trip to France when I was 9 years old. That first night I was in Paris with my father and I ordered a glass of milk at a bistro, the waiter looked at me and said, “milk is for babies” and instead brought me a glass of wine mixed with water and this sort of odyssey of mine with wine started at that very moment.
- WHERE DOES THIS STORY BEGIN?
- During that trip I also went to Avignon and where in the 14th century, Pope Clement V, who was originally from Bordeaux, moved the Roman Catholic Papacy. My father was a minister, so wherever we went the itinerary included visits to cathedrals and religious relics in the area. And here we are in Avignon, wandering through the Palais des Papes and I learn that Pope Clement V started some of the great wines of the Rhône to be used by the Church for sacramental wine. We now know he was instrumental in establishing the Rhone as one of France’s iconic wine regions. The movement of the Papacy brought wealth and commerce to Avignon. Pope Clement V put the Rhône region on the map from a wine perspective. I saw France through this lens of wine. I was introduced to the cultural history but the story really came back to wine and my early memories of discovering this area with my father.
- WHAT MEANING DOES THE RHÔNE VALLEY HOLD FOR YOU?
- The Tarasque is a sort of a monster that was lurking around the countryside in the 1st century eating anything it came across, goats, sheep and a few local peasants. Legend has it that the creature inhabited the area of Nerluc in Provence, France, and devastated the landscape far and wide. No one can quite describe this beast; it has the head of a lion, the tail of a scorpion and the body of a hippo with six short legs and was covered by scales.
It is said that the king of Nerluc had attacked the Tarasque with knights and catapults to no avail. But in 48 AD Saint Martha found the monster and charmed it with hymns and prayers, and led the tamed Tarasque back to the city. The people, terrified by the beast, attacked and killed it. Martha was saddened that the people had killed the tamed beast without giving it a chance. She preached tolerance to the people and converted many of them to Christianity. Sorry for what they had done to the tamed monster, the newly-Christianized townspeople changed the town’s name from Nerluc to Tarascon. It still bears that name today.
Legend of St. Martha dates back to Biblical times – she was Lazarus’ sister and left Judea around AD 48, and went to Provence with her sister Mary and her brother. Martha first settled
in Avignon. Martha moved to and eventually died in Tarascon, where she was buried. Her tomb is located in the crypt of the local Collegiate Church. It is one of the medieval churches I visited with as a boy with my father.
- TELL US ABOUT THE NAME, LA TARASQUE CÔTES DU RHÔNE?
- WHAT IS THE STORY OF LA TARASQUE?
- I’ve wanted to make this wine for a long time. Back in the late 90’s I was working near Avignon (again Avignon) as the for Beringer on a wine called, Rive Fort De France, Beringer’s brand in France. All major US wine players were there. The crazy thing was because these wines were being made for the American market, we were all over there in the Southern Rhône trying to make wine with the American consumers’ preferred varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Those grapes don’t grow well and were in limited supply which was driving the price up. We were all chasing the same rare, expensive fruit and passing right by these gorgeous old-vine local varietals like Grenache. It made no sense to me. I started hanging around with the local winemakers and learning about these Grenache dominated blends. I fell in love. Grenache wines are rich and jammy. They are supple with lush tannins and age well. I met all these growers – farming small little vineyards dotting the country side. It was magical. So I started playing around with a blend and got this idea that I’m going to get Beringer to market a true Côte du Rhône. The next time the big guy is in from America I bring out my little wine that I am wildly excited about and pour him a glass. He says “is this Cabernet?” I say no it’s Grenache. He says “I don’t want it – I want Cabernet”, put down the glass, and that was it – end of story. I never stopped wanting to go back to the Rhône to make a Grenache. And now here we are. So you see this wine has been in me for close to two decades waiting to for the right time to re-emerge. When the idea for this wine came up I went back to the same growers I’d kept in touch with all these years I ultimately selected lots from 10 distinct vineyards in the region – all from local families who have been growing some of the best Grenache in the area for decades – in some cases centuries.
- TALK ABOUT THE WINE. WHY A GRENACHE BLEND?
- THE BLEND HAS A BIT OF SYRAH IN THERE TOO – WHY SYRAH?
- Syrah gives the wine complexity – it is more serious. Think of Grenache as that fun person you meet at a cocktail party. Grenache is interesting, bold and sexy. That is perfect as a first date. But you need a little more; you need some intellect and structure. Syrah is that person, more grounded but austere. The Grenache fruit invites you in, but the hint of Syrah ensures our La Tarasque Côtes du Rhône isn’t a just one-night stand. The blend makes this wine something you can have a long term relationship with! ost importantly that is where the best Grenache grapes grow. I wanted the best expression of a classic Rhône wine and to me that is Grenache. But also because to me, the Southern Rhône speaks to my love affair with French wine like no other place. From my earliest journey through medieval castles of Avignon to falling in love with the Grenache wines of this region, I had to make La Tarasque here. And of course, because of the monster himself – I had to try my own hand at taming this beast! Taste it and see what you think.
- AND FINALLY, WHY SOUTHERN RHÔNE?
- So this idea of La Tarasque is an appealing story to me, it is one you always hear about in the medieval world. But more importantly, it is legend throughout the Côte du Rhône – it conjures a sense of pride in the local people. Everyone in the Rhône celebrates La Tarasque. Festivals and parades are dedicated to the story. Tucked away in some corner of almost every town in the region, you will find a museum with a display about the creature, or artwork depicting the beast. Festivals and parades are dedicated to the story. To me – it was the perfect image for our label. The story is really about seeing beyond the surface and bringing out the best in something (winemaking is a little like that too). Also, I like that Martha’s journey began in Avignon – the very place I had first experienced as boy. The town of Tarascon is only 14 miles south of Avignon and in the heart of the Southern Rhône. All these connections are important to me.