Is this the time when we should start the pre-Christmas season of wine with big hefty reds? No, no, no me brotha. This Wine Rambler abides by his statement of principle: Freshness, freshness, freshness. It's a well-documented fact by now that I am no great fan of the South of France, at least not any more. I've developed a kind of allergy to the overripe cherry and generic dried herbs-approach on offer from there. But there is a style, pioneered mostly, with some hits and misses, by the Gauby family, that I think of as Mediterranean avant-garde: Sprightly, slender-bodied, drinkable reds with a lighter, more focused spectrum of fruit.
Another winery that has moved in this direction is Christophe Peyrus' Clos Marie.
The 2004 L'Olivette, his entrance-level cuvée, she of the stylish label, showed a promising cherry red colour, and the nose didn't disappoint me in any way either: Ripe, just ripe, not overripe cherries and plums, Languedoc spiciness, but in a purist way. On the palate, spice, smoothness, finely sand-papered tannin. With lamb-and-spinach meatballs and salad, this classy and approachable red brought on a whole different kind of festive cheer.