Côtes Catalanes Chardonnay

Here in the sunniest corner of southwestern France, after an earlier period of working for other wineries abroad, Jean-Marc Lafage and partner Eliane have followed his father’s winemaking footsteps; the sixth generation to steward a collection of historic vineyards in various pockets of Roussillon. Their property in the Côtes Catalanes IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) is by definition a mid-tier classification, lying between the coveted AOP and the generic Vin de France designations of the French grading system. However, in the case of this vintner’s inspired practices, the less-stringent guidelines and fewer entrenched traditions for fashioning blended white wine (in a region still better known for its reds and rosés) allows for a more flexible year-to-year recipe for selecting the proportions of the 23 authorized grape varieties. For this week’s DéClassé featured Domaine Lafage Cadireta Blanc 2014, the somewhat novel blend is 95% Chardonnay and 5% Viognier, with a third of the batch having been fermented in new Burgundy barrels and left to rest on its lees (expired yeast).

Flourishing in a diverse set of global regions, Chardonnay can be finished in a broad range of styles. In Languedoc-Roussillon, apart from generally being a hot and dry zone that yields fully mature grapes, the easy-drinking Chardonnay style being produced is decidedly on the lighter and fresh side of the sliding scale. 45 years on from the region’s comprehensive overhaul that was begun in the early 1970’s, which saw the replacing of unremarkable vine stock with Noble Grape varieties such as Merlot, Cab Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Viognier, there’s also been a steady advancing of quality while keeping prices competitive/attractive. At $16.95, this bottle exemplifies these facts, gloriously!

domaine-lafage2

Roussillon’s Mediterranean coastal areas are among the windiest stretches in south France, which can be both a blessing or curse depending on other factors and climate cycles in any given year. The five converging winds of the Scirocco, Cers, Autan, Marin, and Le Vent Tramontane that blows from the north-west, can provide a respite from the sometimes intense heat of the summer months; guard the vine stock against the proliferation of pests and disease, or in the case in 2014, be the bearer of calamitous hail and heavy rain storms that stunted harvests in the region. Fortunately for Domaine Lafage, their 20-year-old vine stock was largely spared the devastation. Fortunately for
lovers of un-doctored, mid-weight Chardonnay, the September harvest produced a noteworthy vintage of approx. 5,000 precious cases.

If you’re an informed LCBO Vintage’s customer, then you already know that the few cases which made it here will sell-out quickly. If you’ve waited for a recommendation, then it might well be too late to find some. Nonetheless, be encouraged; the 2015 vintage may prove to be even better – next August!

Lafage

DOMAINE LAFAGE CADIRETA BLANC 2014
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #448472 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
13% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Midi, France
By: Domaine Lafage
Release Date: August 6, 2016

Tasting Note
Featuring some delightful flavours and aroma notes of banana and tropical fruit, this also has the tell-tale vanilla accent of classic French Chardonnay. Try serving as a well-chilled aperitif with mixed charcuterie/cheeses, smoked ham, crostini, moules-frites or with mains of roast veal, lamb tagine, and mild curries.

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