Posted by: tomciocco | December 11, 2010


About a month ago, I wrote a post about another wine from Roussillon, and in many ways the two wines were kin: place-driven blends made from native grape varieties, and unencumbered, if not completely untouched by oak. But while the Walden represented the underground or at least the grass roots of the negociant winemaking model, this wine from the very prestigious but undeniably large house of Chapoutier (who owns its own vineyards too)  is a more classic example of buying and blending the wines from multiple growers.

When these types of heavily blended wines are made with care by an experienced negociant they can become like “encyclopedia entries” for the names on their labels – a sort of tutorial-in-a-bottle for, in this case, Roussillon-style wines. The unsuccessful negociant for me selects too heavily for his or her tastes, or relies too much on “international” grape varieities to make the final product more “commercializable”. The best ones, on the other hand, just like a good encyclopdia entry, whet the appetite to explore the depth and the details…

Between the two wines, the Walden gets the nod from me (but to be fair, they’re from different vintages and the exact grape blends differ too) but both nonetheless sketch out Roussillon pretty well.

I served this little slice of Catalan France with a Catalan appetizer called farcelets de col which are fried then baked pork and cabbage croquettes, and then bacalla` a la manresa – chunks of salt cod, floured and fried, and briefly stewed with toasted pine nuts, spinach, and chopped prunes.

M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Cotes de Roussillon 2009

Deep crimson-garnet color. Heady nose of blueberry, charcoal, dried herbs, juniper, “sweet-tarts”, “taco meat”, and rubber. The palate is BIG and smooth with sweet but still pinchy/tart plum and strawberry fruit with twiggy and dark chocolate notes underlying. Pleasantly bitter finish. Still a bit tight.



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