In 2013, Stephan Kandler, went from from sailing the high seas in the World Cup, to manning the helm at Chateau Tourril in the South of France after the death of his father Ortwin Kandler, who co-owned the estate and vineyard with Philippe Espeluque.
Chateau Tourril benefits from an ideal wine making location in Languedoc. The 13 hectare vineyard is set between two UNESCO World Heritage sites ( the fortified city of Cacassonne and the Canal du Midi), in a limestone corrie. It is also surrounded by plenty of garrigue (lavender, thyme, and other low-growing vegetation) that combine to guard it from wind and frost. Its soil also enjoys good drainage and sunlight. Add to this, modern wine producing technology, sustainable farming methods and Stephan’s wine making philosophy that involves cultivating the varietals best suited to the soil and Mediterranean climate, as well as crafting wines only from a selection of the best grapes after each harvest, and you have all the elements for making good wine.
Stephan partnered with Gloo restaurant in New York City (think the French onomatopoeia for the sound you make in your throat when drinking), and Stephan and the Chef at this warm and rustic French bistro, came up with perfect complements to his roster of rose’, white and reds. Chateau Tourril produces AOC Minervois wines from Cinsault, Old Carignan, Syrah, Roussanne, and Grenache.
The AOC Minervois Rose, Havana, 2015 ( Stephan’s inclination for Cuban cigars inspired the name), produced using the saignee method ( fermentation takes place in low temperature vats and aged on the lees until bottling) was lively, with lemon, strawberry, raspberry, and red fruit notes, balanced acidity, and a crisp finish. It paired very well with the buttery, citrusy, and subtly sweet flavors of the “Up Side Down” tomato tartelettes, and balanced out the pungency and sharpness of the balsamic in the Mediterranean salad.
A pillowy, sweet and succulent wild scallops with cider sauce and caramelized leeks brought out all the floral aromas of lavender and chamomile, and complex notes of ripe green apples, pears and citrus fruits in the Chateau Tourril, Helios Blanc ( Helios, Greek for sun). The style of this 100 percent Roussanne vintage is reminiscent of wines from the Cotes du Rhone.
A seven hour cooked lamb shoulder with ratatouille and olive oil mashed potatoes (a classic Southern French dish) was paired with an AOC Minervois Red, Panatella, 2011 (Panatella refers to a particular type of long thin Cuban cigar). This robust and full-bodied blend of Syrah and Grenache with notes of candied blackberries, tobacco and fired wood, and balanced tannins complemented the pungent and hearty flavors of the lamb.
An AOC Minervois Red, Livia, 2013 (named after Stephan’s daughter), was served with a hanger steak topped with shitake mushrooms, and accompanied by a potato gratin Dauphinois. This intense blend of Syrah and Carignan had just the right amount of ripe plum, red fruit, and sweet and spicy notes of cardamom and peppercorn, to enhance but not overpower the steak.
A third red, an AOC Minervois Red, Philippe, 2011 ( named after one of the estate’s owners) is a blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir and Syrah. This soft and smooth vintage with its attractive aromas of dark and red fruits, and notes of ripe pomegranate, made a fine accompaniment to a rich and decadent gateau fondant au chocolat.
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