Bill’s Best Bets – September part 2
September 18th Cellier Release
by Bill Zacharkiw
Back again with what to buy from the 2nd Cellier magazine release which will be Thursday, Sept 18. The last release (Sept 4th) focused on Bordeaux and the Rhône. This time, many of the wines hail from a region which is very dear to us Quebeckers, the Languedoc-Roussillon.
Quebec is quite unique in the world with respect to this oft-maligned region. In many parts of the world, including France, it is known for producing bulk wine. Back in my days working the restaurant floor as a sommelier, I was shocked on a number of occasions when I suggested a Languedoc wine to French tourists, and their response was that they would never drink such cheap wine.
Amazing how perspectives on a wine region can be so different. The Languedoc-Roussillon is number one in Quebec in terms of bottles sold of any region in the world. And it is not of bulk wine. To me, the Languedoc is one of the more dynamic wine regions in the world. And while they do produce a ton of wine – the Languedoc-Roussillon produces more than all of Australia – much of what we see here are wines that are not only interesting and unique, but exceptional value.
So if you are already a fan, here are some suggestions. If you aren’t familiar with the region, then it’s time you get up to speed. This is Bargainville folks. From the sparklings of Limoux, to the rusticity of Corbières, the refinement of Coteaux du Languedoc, to the sun infused grapes of the Roussillon, there is truly a wine for every palate.
Let’s start with the wines that gave me the biggest buzz. From one of the least known appellations of the Languedoc, Faugères, is the 2011 Domaine de Cottebrune’s Transhumance. The winery is owned by one of my favourite vignerons in Cȏte Rȏtie, Pierre Gaillard. And much like his wines of the Northern Rhȏne, this is power in a velvet glove. Gaillard’s delicate touch is unmistakable as he takes this classic grenache-syrah-mourvèdre blend and offers up a palate of powerful fruit and garrigue with refinement and class. (180 cases)
On a completely different track, but with an equal joy factor, is Vignoble Le Loup Blanc’s 2011 Minervois. This is a beautiful expression of syrah and grenache. Owned by now Montrealer Alain Rochard, this has all the aromatic expression of a low to no sulphite wine. Organic, grown and made with care, the wine has incredible energy and purity. No oak to get in the way – just fruit, fruit and more fruit. (172 cases)
Moving south into the Roussillon, the Parcé Frères 2010 Cotes du Roussillon Village, Zoé, is made for those who want wines with torque. A blend of syrah and grenache, you can sense the sun in the grapes with its rich, dark fruits. But underneath the mass of fruit is a mineral streak that refines, adds depth and refreshes. (300 cases)
If the Zoé isn’t big enough for you, try the 2011 Old Vine, cuvée Tesselae, Côtes du Roussillon from Louis Roche. Especially if you drink more new world wines and want to try a wine from southern France, this wine will make the transition very easy. Holds its 14.5% alcohol very well. I refer to it as one of those aaarrrrgggh! wines. Try it and find out why. (249 cases)
As I did last time, I’ll use this newsletter as a forum to talk about other noteworthy wines that are not part of the magazine release, but deserve some love. Fans of the carignan grape will be happy as the SAQ has re-ordered Elisabeth et François Jourdan’s Vieilles Vignes L’Argentier. Much like the 2010, the 2011 is dark fruited and replete with notes of black liquorice, meat and minerals. Never about the fruit, this is all about the texture.
No discussion of the Roussillon is complete without mentioning the fortified wines of Maury. I recently tasted two wines from Mas Amiel, and both are worthy purchases, especially if you are fans of Port. Less sweet and more elegant than the Portuguese wines, Maury’s wines often go un-noticed. The 2011 Vintage shows notes of figs and dried cassis. Amazing pairing with anything chocolate. If you want to try something even more impressive, there are a few bottle of the 15 year left in the store. Apparently the SAQ has yet to re-order them, so not sure when this exceptional wine will be back. If you can find one – buy it!
And finally, there are two Rhône wines that were not in the September 4 release. I love the Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Château Mont-Redon. When I first tasted the 2009 two years ago, I found it a touch fat, which was due to the hot vintage. But two years later, I’m happy to report that the wine is now tasting very much like the Mont-Redon that I love – finesse, elegance and all about the fruit. Patience pays off!
Also of note is Philippe Nusswitz’s 2012 Orénia. From the little known IGP of Duché d’Uzès, which is located in the northern part of Nîmes, this is a classic fruit first Rhône wine. Keep it chilled and enjoy.
So that’s it for now. Next on the newsletter list is September’s 20 under $20.
“There’s enjoyment to be had of a glass of wine without making it a fetish.” – Frank Prial
Editors Note: You can find Bill’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images above. Premium subscribers to Chacun son vin see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!