Thursday, October 24, 2013

Abbaye Sylva Plana Faugères Le Blanc 2011 - A Taste of Southern France

While looking for a viscous Rhone Roussanne at a local wine shop, the owner recommended I try the Abbaye Sylva Plana Le Blanc from the Languedoc instead.  I’m always game to try something new and this white from Faugères sounded like it was close to what I wanted anyway.

Faugères, in Languedoc-Roussillon, is inland from the Gulf of Lyon and the Mediterranean Sea.  The region holding status as a wine appellation for just over thirty years, a very short time for most French wine regions.  The appellation is known for having a consistent soil base called schist which is a course grained rock altered into layers by heat and pressure.  In between the layers of rock are layers of clay.  While the rock provides suitable drainage, the clay layers absorb moisture and provide a source of water that vine roots can push down into.

The schist also affords the vines a stable heat source warming the vines during the night.  In addition a wind coming down from the Montagne Noire, Black Mountain – a mountain range in central southern France, serves to cool the grapes during the heat of the day.  Both elements of the local terroir serve to mediate the temperature of the grapes in Faugères, delivering a steadier ripening temperature.

As for the Abbaye Sylva Plana, it is located around the ancient monastery of Sylvanes Abbey that was founded in 1139.  In 1998, Nicolas and Henry Ferdinand Bouchard made an investment in the Faugères by associating with the Guy family, whose ancestors settled in Laurens, a local commune, generations ago.

The white wine is made from 45% Roussanne, 45% Grenache Blanc and 10% Viognier.  The grapes are manually harvested, pressed and then fermented at low temperature.

The color is a brilliant pale yellow.  The nose is refined with fresh white floral notes and aromatic herbs.  There are also hints of white fruit, honeysuckle and spice.  Once on the palate, the minerality delivered from the schist soil becomes evident amid fragrant white peach, honeysuckle and other white flowers as well as viscous honey notes rounding out the profile.

The wine is very good.  We paired it with grilled pork chops with a touch of creole seasoning.  What a handsome pairing that made us proud of our work for the evening.  I would happily repeat this performance and will look for additional options from Faugères to taste.

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