It's not every day that you can discover you have a real family connection to a bottle of wine. Assas is a small village 10 kilometers north of Montpellier in Hérault, in southwestern France. The Château d'Assas is the manor house of the village, and the current house dates from the 18th century. Simone Demangel, who bought the house with her husband, Robert, in the 1930s, spent the last few years of World War II making false identity papers for Jewish people who needed to escape from southern France (including Tom's father and grandparents). Her daughter, Marie-Claire, now lives in the house, and told Tom stories of Simone riding her bicycle many kilometers at night to avoid detection and deliver the papers. After the war, she was decorated by General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny for her resistance work.
Marie-Claire and her sisters agreed to lease the name and image of the château to the local cooperative winery, which now produces a line of wines called Château d'Assas -- some from grapes grown on land that was part of the château in previous centuries. The cooperative produces a few different lines of wines with appellations of Pic St. Loup, Grès de Montpellier, AOC Languedoc, and IGP Pays d'OC. We've picked two of the Château d'Assas wines to import, and they're both in the Grès de Montpellier appellation. This region is close enough to the Mediterranean to get some of the humidity and winds from the Mediterranean (and cooler nights as well), but far enough inland to experience the Tramontane winds (also known as the Mistral) that dry off the leaves of the vines, ensuring their health.
Château d'Assas Classique is 70% Syrah, 30% Grenache, aged in concrete tanks before bottling. It has more Syrah than a typical southern Rhône mix, and with grapes grown in the warmer climate of the Languedoc, the wine is fruitier and a bit more lush than you'd expect in a Rhône blend. It pairs with just about anything you'd drink a red wine with: meats, chicken, salmon, and roasted vegetables, but it's particularly good with mushrooms, eggplant, goat cheese, and lamb.
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||Medium Red Wine
||Languedoc Grès de Montpellier Red
||Les Vignerons du Pic, Assas (Languedoc)
88 points and Best Buy, Wine and Spirits (June 2010). "Soft and rich, this is a warm, generous red with herbal scents and plummy fruit. Pour it to juice up grilled flank steak."
Meats, chicken, salmon, roasted vegetables, mushrooms, eggplant, goat cheeses.