Posted by: tomciocco | February 5, 2012


As I look back over previous posts, I notice that this one will be my fourth on a wine originating from France’s culturally Catalan Roussillon region (or most officially and bureaucratically, Pyrenees Orientales, which is a name that clearly strips away all connection to the place’s Catalan language and culture, but that’s another thing altogether…) and at first thought, this might seem to open me up for criticism along the lines of being perversely drawn to the obscure, and for the most part I plead guilty as charged, but I’d also reply that from ‘nowhere’ places like Roussillon often come distinctive and seriously place-driven wines with low numbers on their price tags, and this bottling is definitely one of them.

The grape mix here is select line-up of some of the usual suspects from the vast vineyards of the western Mediterranean –  specifically a blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 20% Carignan. What makes this a real semi-precious stone of a wine is that its classification – “Vin de Pays” – is hierarchically France’s humblest, and though this is no Grand Vin to be sure (or shouild I say Gran Vi? ) in my estimation, it really over-delivers for what amounts to just a simple “table wine”…

Dinner consisted of a Catalan-style creamed fava bean and potato soup with mint, followed by a dish called cebas farcides – boiled and gutted Spanish onions stuffed with a hash of ground pork, bacon, egg, cheese, bread crumbs, marjoram, thyme, etc., baked for an hour, and served with a garlic-infused tomato sauce.









Cuvee` de Pena Vin de Pays des Pyrenees Orientales 2009

“Smokey”, deep magenta/garnet color. Punchy, direct aromas of dried black cherry and blueberry fruit, coal smoke, vanilla bean, graham crackers, juniper berries, and  minerals. The medium-full body is soft and smooth, but ably supported by stubbly, peppery tannins that reveal pomegranate, plum, and blackberry fruit flavors, hints of aromatic flowers, and a savory, pickled vegetable quality. Finishes tartly dry with lingering and fairly intense black licorice notes.   


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