Malcolm Jolley finds a bit of South of France sunshine the glass…

Every few weeks my COVID fueled travel fantasy location shifts. For a long stretch it was Sicily, then up to Piedmont, and now I’ve hopped over the Maritime Alps to the South of France. There to meet me as I get out of my 1974 Citroën DS wearing my marinière and espadrilles, will be the ever gracious Michel Gassier straight from his cellar in Nîmes, holding forth a glass of his delicious Viogner. Or maybe it will be my beagle scratching my shin through my corduroys at my kitchen counter as the six o’clock news delivers the latest grim statistics. In any event, the glass of Viogner will be there to remind me of sunshine and warmer times.

Viogner was brought back from near extinction in the 1980’s in its native habitat of the Northern Rhône, and it was quite a vogue grape for a while before the Millennium. It was widely planted, often in spots where the climate is quite a bit warmer, including the clay and limestone organic vineyards Michel Gassier keeps overlooking the salt flats of the Camargue, right at the very Southern delta end of that very river. This, in my humble opinion, was a good thing, as the Domaine Gassier Embruns Viogner 2019 ($18.95 | LCBO# 669531) has turned the Mediterranean sunshine into big glass of fruit forward apricot and peach, bouqueted with a hint of grassy aromatics, braced with a zing of good acidity and seasoned with a dash of salty minerality. I am not claiming Monsieur Gassier’s Viogner is a cure for Seasonal Affective Disorder or the COVID blues; for that one needs to get outside and vigorously walk one’s beagle around the block (again). But I am saying that it doesn’t hurt and for $19 it’s certainly worth a try, even just to fantasize of better times to come.

Michel Gassier with Cassandra Mosher, Toronto, Autumn of 2016.