Imagine you are overlooking a sweeping landscape of vineyards, whether it is in the Willamette Valley, Paso Robles, or the Southern Rhône. Have you ever stopped to think where the grape vines come from? Do you plant them from seed? Buy them in a pot like a tree? Not exactly.
The region of Roussillon falls clearly within the borders of France. It is also regularly amalgamated with its neighboring region, in the denomination of Languedoc-Roussillon. However, the area really has a story that is entirely its own. The windswept, hot, dry slopes that rise out of the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea harbor a culture that has more in common with Spain's Catalonia than with the rest of France. The soils and climate are more reminiscent of Priorat, which lies just south of the Pyrenees Mountains from Roussillon, rather than the rest of the Languedoc.
“Bonjour Amy, this is Elodie from the Gigondas promotional board, we have a spot open on a helicopter tour of the Gigondas vineyards next week, would you like to come?” “A helicopter tour of the Dentelles de Montmirail and the principal vineyards of Gigondas? You bet!!”
Originating from Domaine de Monpertuis, a winery located in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this Old World counoise is deep amethyst in color and exhibits a “hot” nose and high acidity that mirrors the minerality of its terroir. Dry and earthy, this bottling offers a generous amount of tannins. However, allow it to open up to experience ripe, red fruit that elevates its Old World characteristics to a wine that ideally compliments a fatty and substantial fish like halibut. I owe my friends at Liner & Elsen
a big thank you for performing the seemingly impossible task of locating a 100-percent Counoise import from France for less than twenty dollars.
This is a very nice bottle of wine, and it has improved with time in the cellar. When the first bottle was opened in 2008 the nose was shy, refusing to give up its secrets without several hours of decanting. Now, after two additional years of rest, it sings. Leather and a touch, a light touch, of barnyard cradle layers of different cherries all sprinkled with white pepper and a spray of foam from an Atlantic wave. Hide this wine in a blind tasting of Chateauneufs and nobody will question its place in the lineup. Drink with steak au poivre.
On Tuesday, November 9th, the Rhone Rangers will host "Pneumonia's Last Syrah" at Dog Patch Studios in San Francisco.
A long weekend in the Northern Rhône would give us a chance to taste from the major producers—Chapoutier, Jaboulet Aîné, Guigal—and from a few of the smaller ones, too. The trip would serve as a kind of a reconnaissance, a chance to test, and sample, the waters, and to get a sense of what tasting wine in France is like.