There are wines we gravitate toward before we even taste them, such as this Cotes de Gascogne, because we know we're going to like, if not love them. What is little known about this luscious wine is that the area it's from is best known for Armagnac, the distinctive brandy that has everything Cognac has, except the name.
Domaine Laballe has been a top Armagnac producer and is still run by the Laudet family who founded it 200 years ago. They are located in a very precise area known as Sables Fauves, which translates to "tawny sands" because of the color of the soil.
Beginning in the 1970s, Noel Laudet began experimenting with making a dry white wine out of the same grapes he used to make Armagnac, primarily Colombard and Gros Manseng. Nobody cared until they tasted it. His wine literally transformed the area and created a new appellation, Cotes de Gascogne.
Later on, he added Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to the mix and labeled it Sables Fauves to honor the special soil in which the grapes were grown. It was literally an overnight sensation. It seemed as though the entire wine universe wrapped themselves around this luscious new entry.
It's easy to understand with one sip. The minerality is evident from the first whiff to the last tingle. From front to back it just oozes exotic stone fruit, floral bouquets and citrus that would command center stage with fish tacos or crab and potato soup.