Along with parts of Provence, the Roussillon region is said to have the oldest cultivated vineyards in France, dating back to 500 BC.
While wine producer M.Chapoutier hasn’t quite been there that long, on the evidence of this bottle he’s certainly made the most of the Mediterranean climate and diverse soils that characterise this part of Southern France.
The first two I like a lot, but Carignan is a new one to me. An embarrassing admission perhaps – in 1988 it was apparently the most widely planted grape in France, only surpassed by Merlot in 2000. Still, from what I can tell it doesn’t have a particularly memorable character of its own and usually comes in blends like this one. According to the label, it brings a “fresh tang” to proceedings, and I won’t argue with that.
The wine is a deep slightly pink red in colour and has a fantastically evocative aroma which speaks of roots, soil and fat ripe grapes growing at altitude in the scorching sun.
There’s plenty of berry on the nose as well, which is also evident on the tongue, where a formidable fruitiness emerges. This swells into a mouth-filling peppery and slightly sweet but still agreeably earthy flavour. That tang is definitely present, and adds a welcome piquancy.
It all adds up to a lively, fun, very drinkable wine, with forthright flavours and a dry finish which leaves you wanting more.
Alcohol is at 14.5% and in this medium-bodied beverage you do taste it, with boozy warmth evident in the hint of sweetness. But it tastes so good it doesn’t matter.
At £8.75 a bottle from Elwood Wines (on discount at the time of writing), I reckon it’s a real bargain if you’re into your brambly, peppery, berry-tastic reds.
Top marks to M.Chapoutier for the Braille on the label, too – something they’ve been doing since 1994.