Who Or What Is A Minervois?
I always am curious as to why some wines just fly off the shelves and always out of stock while a good handful in various sections just sit there and sit there and never have I seen a guest even look at the bottles, let alone buy them. I can’t blame them as when it comes to French Wines in America, consumers know Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cotes Du Rhone and Chateauneuf Du Pape. You see this bottle somewhere in a 1- Section called Languedoc-Roussillon which frightens you and 2- if you have the courage to stop at that strange area and see a BIN full of bottles that no one has touched that say MINERVOIS on them .. you quickly pass by to more familiar territories and your comfort zones.
Notice the location on the map in the Southern French Region of Languedoc-Roussillon, the purple area to the west called Minervois. This is inland and located in the foothills of the Montagne Noire and it isn’t as cool from the breeze of the ocean. The summers are hot and the grapes are literally absorbing the hot rays of the sun. When I see wines from areas like this and from good producers not selling even one bottle, I have to take this lonely wine home and show it some love.
J.M Cazes :A Legend
Above is Jean-Michel Cazes, the owner of Château Lynch-Bages in Pauillac a 5th growth Grand Cru Classe Left Bank Bordeaux, had spent many years scouring the Languedoc region in his quest for outstanding terroirs. Until one day he discovered La Livinière, a village at the foot of the Montagne Noire, the birthplace of the finest vineyards in the Minervois. It is a very very unique Terrioir. Lots of underbrush and rocks and hot summers with Non Bordeaux Varietals such as mainly Syrah and Carignan as well as Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault.
As you can see this is a unique terrior. J.M Cazes along with his technical team are dedicated to accentuating this outstanding terroir.
He purchased two neighboring estates in 2002 which he combined to make a single 150 hectare Domaine, including 60 hectares of vineyards and 25 hectares of olive groves. With the help of his son Jean-Charles, they chose a name filled with meaning and history: ”L’Ostal”, meaning both ”house” and ”family group” in the ancient Occitan language. The Domaine L’Ostal Cazes was born…
Review 2013 L’Ostal Cazes
It takes its name from one of the domaine’s finest parcels… ”Estibals”. L’Ostal Cazes Estibals is made from a blend of the youngest vines that do not meet criteria for the Grand Vin de L’Ostal Cazes. The blend for this vintage is 60% Syrah with 20% Each of Carignan and Grenache. This blend along with the technical team making the wine and vineyard management will show off the unique terroir of Minervois.The wine is aged for 1 year in French Oak Barrels.
The bronze disc on the label brings to mind the warm and sun-drenched character of wines from Minervois. From the color, the aromatics and the palate this is wine made from grapes that were kissed from the Sun. Dark ruby red with the edges you can see a bright purple hue. The alcohol is 13.5% and I would call this a medium frame but on the nose and palate packs a full force punch. Aromatically I pick up a strong nose of underbrush and that “French Funk” if you will, with more floral notes and herbs such as thyme than I have picked up on in a wine in a long time. As it opens the cherry and blackberry and plums come through with only a hint of cedar from the oak in the background. On the palate this wine is really strong at the beginning in a good way, with juicy, lively notes of Morello Cherries, Blackberries , and yes a the flowers and herbs you can taste and the strong acidity as it’s backbone pushes this to a very Tangy, Mandarin Orange like finish with very soft tannins and a hint of black pepper spice. Sun drenched wines like this tend to have those orange tangy accents and although I personally am not a big fan, the wine is very terroir driven. I will score this an 86+ out of 100 points. Food pairings I think Lamb, Lamb, Lamb and surprisingly I can see this going well with Fatty Fish such as Grilled Salmon, Tuna Steaks, as the acidity and liveliness would match well. For Cheeses go big or go home here. This is such a juicy wine even a light blue wouldn’t scar the fruit on this.
As I drank this wine for review even though I knew the grapes and the Minervois Terroir I was thinking of many Oregon Pinot Noirs, Chiantis, Rosso Di Montalcinos, etc that this style of wine would please. Here all those wines, and some are double the price or $10-$15 higher, get to go home everyday to wine consumers and enjoyed while this poor little mixed breed of grapes sits for 2 years watching all the other wines get the attention. This doesn’t seem fair. The only reason for this, after drinking this wine, is the lack of familiar grape names or a familiar region. At $14.99 when you see a BIN full of wines that no one seems to want like this one, adopt it and take it to a nice home. Even a wine from Minervois Deserves to be Loved.
Grape-fully yours, Larry