A WineAccess Favorite Under-$14 White
When enologists Stéphane and Marjorie Gallet studied France’s wine routes back in 2001, the choices were few, given their modest billfolds. Burgundy was priced out of consideration, as were Stéphane’s Northern Rhône stomping grounds. The Loire was tempting, but cold. Bordeaux just seemed dull. But the more they learned about the forgotten, ancient vineyards of the Roussillon, the more they were intrigued. One summer day, Stéphane and Marjorie took off down the A6. A hundred kilometers before Perpignan, they exited, weaving into the back country towards the whitewashed village of Montner.
By noon, the temperature was flirting with 100 degrees. The wind was howling, blowing at 90 mph. Driving their 4x4 up a dirt path, they pulled over next to a 3-acre parcel of ancient-vine Carignan. The plants were head-trained, spidering close to the ground, protecting themselves from the blustery winds. The soils were pure schist, the flaky slate that also accounts for the magnificent reds of Spain’s Priorat. The roots, they’d soon learn, burrowed 15 feet underground, seeking out precious water reserves in the substrata. Just six months later, the Gallets had set up shop.
They named their estate Le Roc des Anges (“The Rock of Angels”). Over the next decade, even with France mired in its deepest recession since the 1920s, the Gallets’ startlingly mineral reds and whites captured the imagination of Paris’ Michelin-starred sommeliers. Even Stéphane admits that their first business plan never contemplated the prices now paid by the likes of Guy Savoy and Le Pré Catelan (both Michelin 3-stars) for Roc des Anges. Nor did it consider the opportunity presented by the old vines farmed by the Gallets’ neighbors, which gave birth to the exquisite 2016 Effet Papillon Blanc.
The 2016 Effet Papillon Blanc is comprised of 100% Grenache Blanc, grown on the windswept hillsides above Montner. Pale green to the rim. Crisp yet weighty on the attack, featuring a mouthwatering mix of Anjou pear, quince, and apple, touched with anise. Surprisingly rich and mineral for a white at anywhere near this price point, finishing with excellent nerve and persistence. Drink now-2019.
Today’s 1,200 bottles are the first to hit the U.S. market, but at $13.50/bottle they won’t last long. Recommended by the case. Don’t delay.