A Passion for Terroir: Côtes du Roussillon AOC

I have said it before and I will say it again…. I dream of sitting in a café in the south of France enjoying a wonderful glass of French wine with a delicious French meal. Alas, I have not yet been to the South of France. Nestled along the Gulf of Lion in the Mediterranean Sea, Languedoc – Roussillon is magical. Wild and expansive Mediterranean landscapes, gently rolling hills, fresh herbs and grape vines as far as the eye can see. Slower and more rustic than Provence; it is traditionally French. Historical and modern at the same time, this region boasts great sites, adventures, food and wine!

Languedoc is the largest wine region in France. A quarter of all of France’s vineyards, almost 200,000 hectares, are located there. The Mediterranean Sea and the mountainous inland create a variety of climates within the region which allow for a variety of grapes to be cultivated into sparkling wines, dry white wines, full body red wines and delicate Pinot Noirs. Furthermore, grape varietals such as Carignan, Grenache and Syrah have been cultivated for centuries and have old, strong, deep rooted vines. As the name suggests Languedoc-Roussillon used to be two independent wine regions. Between the two regions Languedoc gets more press and attention; therefore, today our focus is on Roussillon; more specifically Côtes du Roussillon Villages.

Languedoc wine map via winefolly

Roussillon is part of the Pyrénées-Orientales, a Catalan region on France’s border with Spain. Because it is located between the Pyrénées and the Mediterranean Sea, Roussillon is one of the sunniest regions in France, producing wines that are rustic in nature with delightful garrigue aromas of lavender and savory herbal notes along with baked berries. The Côtes du Roussillon Villages are comprised of 32 towns in the north of Côtes du Roussillon. The climate is highly influenced by the Mediterranean, altitudes vary between 100 to 400meters, with soil ranging from granite and gneiss terrain, black and brown schist, clay and limestone, and stony terraces. It contains about 1300 hectares of vines producing red wine only from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan.

Vineyards growing among garrigue via www.vinsdurousillon.com
Vineyards growing among garrigue via http://www.vinsdurousillon.com

Michel Chapoutier is a famed producer of Rhone Valley wines. As a passionate terroir lover, Michael saw something in the 190 acre neglected estate in Agly Valley Roussillon and purchased the vineyards in 1999. Latour de France sits practically on the Spanish border (while still remaining in France) and contains everything Michel was looking for to produce high quality Roussillon wine; “Black and brown schist to give the wine a solar touch. Gneiss for minerality and freshness. Combination of Limestone and chalk for strength and balance.” Here, Michel chose three grapes to express the terroir: “Syrah, with its savage aromas of scrub and spice. Grenache, so full of surprises. And Carignan, for mineral wines with crispy tannic notes.” Out of this challenging and remote wine region Michel Chapoutier has crafted many gems. One of these gems is his Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2014.

M. Chapoutier Cotes de Roussillon Villages www.sacriana.com
M. Chapoutier Cotes de Roussillon Villages http://www.sacriana.com

M Chapoutier Roussillon RougeM. Chapoutier “Les Vignes de Bila-Haut” Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2014: This wine was crafted of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan from biodynamically farmed, certified organic vineyards throughout the Côtes du Roussillon Villages AOC. Deep ruby in the glass with quintessential Roussillon garrigue savory herbal notes on the nose including lavender and sage blended beautifully with cherries, plums, blue berries, candied violets, smoky leather and menthol round out the aromas and follow through on the palate with lively flavors that dance to the delight of the senses; rich round acidity and present but not overpowering add a pleasing long finish to this well-structured wine. This wine would pair beautifully with a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, a bowl of beef or rabbit stew, good friends and good music. With an SRP of $12.99 this wine could be the bargain of the year! The winemaker said this wine smells like summer rain on wet stone; I would add it is ideally Roussillon summer rain filled with fresh rustic herbs! Add this wine to your 2016 drinking enjoyment and share it with your friends!

M Chapoutier wine2

This wine was shared with me by Creative Palate Communications LLC. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

My Song Selection: I believe the perfect song pairing for Villages and M. Chapoutier “Les Vignes de Bila-Haut” takes me back to the sitting in a café in the south of France on the Mediterranean, sipping this wine and watching the world go by. Care to join me?

Get your own bottle of M. Chapoutier “Les Vignes de Bila-Haut” Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2014 and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!


4 responses to “A Passion for Terroir: Côtes du Roussillon AOC”

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