Garrigue?

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Garrigue?

Postby Bill Spohn » Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:14 pm

Just read a review of an American syrah that said it had garrigue in the nose.

Seems rather inappropriate given that it was made about 6,000 miles away from any garrigue.

What next, will American sangiovese evoke the scents of the Tuscan hills at dawn? Or will a Chateauneuf bring to mind sagebrush on the lone prairie?

Some reviewers need to have their gazeteers shoved up their fundaments, IMHO.
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Re: Garrigue?

Postby Ryan M » Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:43 pm

It's just a descriptor they have chosen to decribe the wine and to evoke the experience of drinking it. What's the problem with that? In this particular case, the baseline for Syrah is the French versions, and so it seems only natural that one would use those sorts of descriptors. Unless you think wine descriptors should be controlled by the AOC or other appellation authority.
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Re: Garrigue?

Postby Shaji M » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:11 pm

Descriptions can be based on what we know and remember. So be it.
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Re: Garrigue?

Postby Jenise » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:16 pm

Garrique is not a single plant, though, right, it's a collection of low-growing plants and dirt indigenous to the coastal areas of southern France that could include such things as rosemary, sage and thyme? As someone who grew up in a hilly area of Southern California next to miles of undeveloped land, I can attest to there being a very similar collection of herbal aromas on warm summer days. I noted the similarity the first time I visited Provence.
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Re: Garrigue?

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:56 pm

What the others said. If we want to snob on them, let's do it over dropping the "s" from "garrigues," but as others have said, rosemary and thyme are international, and it's not really wrong to use metaphors from the regions that gave us Syrah. Spelling it wrong, though, is like substituting Gallo "Sauterne" for the Chateau d'Yquem in your glass. :mrgreen:
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Re: Garrigue?

Postby David M. Bueker » Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:02 pm

Some curmudgeons need to have drink...
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Re: Garrigue?

Postby Bill Spohn » Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:44 pm

Robin Garr wrote:What the others said. If we want to snob on them, let's do it over dropping the "s" from "garrigues," but as others have said, rosemary and thyme are international, and it's not really wrong to use metaphors from the regions that gave us Syrah. Spelling it wrong, though, is like substituting Gallo "Sauterne" for the Chateau d'Yquem in your glass. :mrgreen:



Actually, Robin, it is correct without the 'S'. It isn't the plural of one garrigue, it means as Jenise implied, the Mediterranean scrubland. It isn't referring to a type of plant in the plural, it is referring to a type of area/terrain. When we say that we can smell garrigue in wine it is the equivalent of saying that you can smell the forest in your deodorant spray.

It therefor refers to a specific area, not specific plants, although to be generous I suppose one could accept Jenise's description of them meaning that the smells were of the type they thought might be found in that area of France (as I doubt many had personally experienced it).

I suppose one should get more exercised over the other florid bombastic adjectives used by reviewers such as RP.

Or I may just take Davi'd suggestion and pop a cork and forget about language niceties in the barbaric world of wine criticism. As it happens I have a Californian Syrah sitting to chambrée - I'll try to remember to liken it to garrigue in a note..... :mrgreen:
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Re: Garrigue?

Postby Steve Edmunds » Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:00 pm

It looks like Garrigue refers specifically to calcareous (limestone, base-rich) soils, and in acid soils the term is Maquis. In California there is Chaparral, with similar connotations as regards resinous, aromatics scrub. In parts of California, mainly Central Coas,t there is also limestone; in much of CA the soils are acid, including much terrain of volcanic origin. Plenty of room for confusion, and easy generalization leading to more confusion.
Last edited by Steve Edmunds on Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Garrigue?

Postby ChaimShraga » Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:34 pm

Steve Edmunds wrote:It looks like Garrigue refers specifically to calcareous (limestone, base-rich) soils, and in acid soils the term is Maquis. In California there is Chaparral, with similar connotations as regards resinous, aromatics scrub. In parts of California, mainly Central Coast there is also limestone; in much of it the soils are acid, including much terrain of volcanic origin. Plenty of room for confusion, and easy generalization leading to more confusion.


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Re: Garrigue?

Postby Mark Lipton » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:26 am

I think that more likely at the root of this is that in the US there is some confusion over the meaning of garrigue, and some have taken it to mean the meaty, gamey aromas of low-level Brett infections so common in the S. Rhone. I have read many people's descriptions of wines I know that include the garrigue descriptor, and most often what I can get from them is what I described above. I think that if more people who used that term had driven through the wilds of Provence in the heat of summer, there'd be a lot less confusion over the term. Steve's relating it to the chapparal of N. and Central CA is also very apt, with lots of rosemary and sage present in both.

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Re: Garrigue?

Postby Bill Spohn » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:35 am

Tasting notes of southern french red wines often include the intriguing descriptor 'garrigue'. So, what is it exactly? Garrigue is the name given to the Mediterranean scrubland which is made up of low growing, bushy plants including holm oak, juniper, broom and wild herbs such as rosemary and thyme. In Provence it also includes lavender although I have never seen this in the wild in the Languedoc.

Walking amongst the garrigue on a warm day, crushing herbs underfoot, releases a fabulous aroma of warm thyme and rosemary. When used to describe a wine, garrigue refers to these green herby aromas. It can also be used to describe flavours too although I find it more evocative as a descriptor for aroma


Good point about the animal bretty smells - this is not what is meant by garrigue, but many seem to think it is. Once you've been there and walked over the ground you'll never be unsure again.
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