Friday Sips

Today March 29, 1:30 - 6:30
You probably have not heard of the French region of Occitanie. Then again you certainly have if you love wine.
In 2016, many of France’s regions were merged into super regions. Occitanie is the name of the super-region that is comprised of Languedoc-Roussilon and the Midi-Pyrenees, both of which are the inspirations for today’s tasting.

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$11.99 BTL./$143.88 CASE

If this wine happened to be a movie setting, it would be the epic western, The Wild Bunch. Made without the household name grapes but several gunslingers that have what I refer to is ‘a real taste of France'. Gaillac is a region located about an hour northeast of the city of Toulouse and is home to the exotic Bracoul grape. Domaine Philemon is a producer who has been in existence since 1804 and one nowadays is a leader in organic farming for the region.

Even though Syrah and other grapes are permissible, the Croix D’Azal cuvee is made with 100% Bracoul from a small 4.5-acre plot. Spices and wild little red fruits. Mineral, sanguine and licorice dominate the nose. Supple, round and amply brisk, this excellent value pairs beautifully with duck, pork belly, soft-ripened cheese, smooth pate - pretty much anything that's bad for the blood sugar but good for the soul.

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$23.99 BTL./$143.94 - SIX PACK

The exuberant Amélie d'Hurlaborde’s has quietly become one of the superb producers in Languedoc. Production here is very small but the quality is mighty and are the types of Languedoc wines that I have been shouting about. Many of the same grapes used here are in the Rhone Valley but undiscovered terroirs are to the forefront, we now know that these wines are very different due to this area of Languedoc having different soils, elevation and very cool evenings.

The 2015 is class with power. Grenache, Syrah and Carignan. Penetrating violet, strawberry licorice, ground pepper and late arriving marine-like scents virtually gleam from the glass. Layered and stylish upon entry, this red spreads out on the palate revealing vibrancy from both the area’s elevation and its Grenache. Extending on the finish and then revealing a surprising second wave that lasts and lasts. Ample structure and depth throughout, this wine has nice early appeal but will also age well for another decade.

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$23.99 BTL./$143.94 - SIX PACK

St-Guilhem le Desert is one of the most aesthetically striking villages in all of France. The rugged beauty cannot exactly be described in words or mere photos. Google it and see for yourself ;-). This wine is from vineyards not very far away from both St-Guilhem and the center of Montpeyroux and is from 100% Carignan ranging in 70-80 year old vines. Only two parcels totaling up to about 2 acres so with naturally low-productivity of these ancient vines, there are miniscule quantities made.

Wind-swept kirsch, lavender and thyme notes arrive first followed black licorice and Indian spices. Vinous, solidly built, old vine depth and with excellent attack, there is prominent succulence and distance. Very exciting on the finish that has lots of lift and length. Like the Montpeyroux, this wine has lovely appeal and can age well for a decade, too.

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$17.99 BTL./$215.88 CASE

Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Muscat, Roussanne, Viognier, Vermentino and Sauvignon from 35-year-old vines in terraced sand and gravel soils right against the sea in France's Roussillon region. At lower alcohol (this label reads 10.5% but who really does know), the sea keeps this dry wine from ever becoming heavy.

Aromatic as all get out from the Viognier, Muscat and Roussanne with the Grenache Blanc and Gris bringing depth and the Vermentino and Sauvignon providing burst and crispness, this wine has an abundance of character and flavor. Electrifying and very aromatic tones of orange, rose lemon, mineral, anise and a generous hint of marine scents which carry over into a clean and crisp, yet deceivingly intense texture that all comes together to please the palate with zest and flavor. Try this wine with a simple linguine with shrimp, good olive oil and an assortment of vegetables.