By LINCOLN SILIAKUS
DIRK VERMEERSCH used to drive racing cars professionally, screeching around corners and burning rubber.
In many ways he still does.
I caught up with Dirk and his wife Ann at Millésime Bio salon in Montpellier. They now run a winery called LE PLAN at Suze-la-Rousse north of Avignon. The chequered flag on his stand and bottle labels must have caught my eye. On his label it claims that his wines are “Powered by Nature – Handmade in France”.
They had me truly hooked.
My fascination grew even stronger when he told me that he has trademark registrations for the Le Plan name, the flag motif, the letters GT and the words Grand Terroir.
— And they are varietal wines, he claimed proudly. “None of that, you know…” He waved his hand dismissively.
— That’s what the G stands for after the GT; Grenache? I asked cautiously.
— That’s right, and the S is for Syrah…
Something was niggling me.
— Er, on a ‘Grand Terroir’?
— Oh yes!, he grinned back.
This was the most fun I’d had all day. After all the genuflecting about terroir that I’d seen from the local folk, here was someone blithely and happily roaring right through it, casting fine distinctions and nuances aside as if they were mere plastic bollards.
When I sipped the GT-A (Aramon variety) I felt a broad skidding sensation.
Where was I? I picked up plenty of torrefaction (burning coffee and chocolate, or was I imagining rubber?) with the GT-G. The Syrah, aged in 100% American oak, left wide, juicy tracks down my gullet. These wines are big, powerful and throaty! He uses very low yields and does plenty of pigeage.
Hang on for your life! These wines get winning scores from Robert Parker. I’ll have to slip one of them into a blind tasting of Burgundies one day, to see if everyone’s awake.