Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages

In terms of cultural history, Les Roussillonnais of southwest France arguably have as much in common with their Catalan neighbours in Spain as they do with their Occitan-speaking cousins in the adjacent territory known as Pays de Langue d’oc (Languedoc). Through most of the medieval period, Roussillon vacillated as a border region between these two peoples, though was mostly ruled by the Counts of Barcelona as a part of Catalonia. In the modern age it has deferred to its French heritage and become bound up in Languedoc-Roussillon. More than just a political marriage, it’s a hybrid of Mediterranean shorelands and craggy inland geography; framed by the Rhône River Valley eastward, and the Pyrenees that divide Spain and France to the west. The wine world, however, still references these twinned regions as separate sets of distinct winemaking terroirs, and so we should!

Originally founded at the turn of the 19th century, the Maison M. Chapoutier has progressively built up and expanded its broad portfolio of mature vineyards next door in the Southern Rhône. In recent decades, it continues to forge ahead with developing new properties and partnerships in various parts of Roussillon while also applying organic growing practices. For this bottling, the fruit comes from younger plots in the Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages AOP. Part of the hilly, northern reaches of Roussillon, the appellation encompasses 32 towns in one of the sunniest areas of France — where cool winters, hot summers, moderate levels of rainfall, and the drying Mistral breezes combine to create peak growing conditions for the dark-skinned grape varieties now thriving here.

Clinging to slopes of the high Agly Valley, terraced vineyards are the source for this weeks’ DéClassé feature of Vignes de Bila-Haut 2016. Poetically described by vintner, Michel Chapoutier, as ‘an old plot of land, rough, almost hostile,’ his references illustrate an ancient geology made up of crushed Gneiss and Schist: mineral-rich types of sedimentary rock laden with limestone and chalk deposits. It’s taken a while for Roussillon’s winemakers to build an understanding that this landscape of heaved prominences and scrubland outcrops is highly conducive to cultivating the sorts of grapevines that will yield fulsome yet still bright and lively red wines.

Using only hand-harvested grapes, this assembled blend incorporates three of the AOP mandated varieties: Syrah, providing spice and aromas imparted from the wild Garrigue of fragrant, flowering shrubs; Black Grenache to add firmness and body, and the region’s signature grape, Carignan, offering some crisp tannic notes. Aiming to create a fresher style of red, his recipe never sees an influence of wood barrels, rather it’s briefly aged in vats; producing a wine that’s intended to be enjoyed young over the next several years. It’s time to reaffirm what so many prudent LCBO Vintage’s customers already know: if you want to warmly invigorate dinners in the cold winter months to come, inexpensively – then dare to buy a whole case!

LES VIGNES DE BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2016
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #168716 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 15.95
14.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Midi, France
By: Maison M. Chapoutier
Release Date: July 9, 2016

Tasting Note
Deep garnet red with dark berry flavours, accented by vanilla and spice notes, this is a pleasingly uncomplicated, rustic wine. Try with grilled lamb chops, lentils with spicy sausage or a Ratatouille made with fire-roasted vegetables.

Corbières GSM

Prominently displaying the dramatic Visigoth symbol dating to the 7th century, later referred to as the Languedoc Cross or Cross of the Cathars, this vintner’s apt bottle emblem also incorporates 2 white doves drinking from a single cup; representing the traditions of sharing and spiritual communion. Begun by father Georges Bertrand, a winemaking pioneer in Languedoc who worked diligently to foster a spirit of cooperation between local growers in the 1970’s, this family has consistently been at the forefront of quality development for a broad range of well-suited grape varieties, yielding a host of regionally distinctive wine styles. As of 1992, the inherited philosophies/vision continue to evolve under the dynamic stewardship of the founder’s son, Gérard Bertrand, who also provides the highly recognizable namesake for a burgeoning portfolio of vineyard estates and their related sub-brands. As an avowed champion of L’Art de Vivre, which
celebrates the local foods, wine, and Mediterranean culture of southern France, the Bertrand Winery has based their production facilities in the regional center of Narbonne and are impressively now exporting to 70 countries, worldwide!

corbieres-map

The South of France is playfully described as a European wine lake, containing 40% of the country’s vineyards. The process of replacing traditional high-yielding grapes with lower yielding varieties, to produce smaller quantities of premium wine, continues. What also carries forward, is that the wine being offered by Languedoc-Roussillon vintners remains comparatively inexpensive and a benchmark of outstanding value. Taking a pride-of-place among recent examples, this DéClassé feature of Gérard Bertrand Terroir Corbières certainly delivers on the expected rich, fruit-forward character that’s typical of the source region, while also being marketed at a delightfully discounted rate of $16.95 – down several dollars from the last recommended vintage in 2014.

This bottle’s blending of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre marks some of the traditional output from a rugged landscape where no other commercial crops thrive except for grapevine. Having achieved an AOP classification in 1985, the terroirs that collectively define the Corbières sub-region are framed between the foothills of the Pyrenees to the southwest and Montagne Noire (Black Mountain) further north. In a variable mix of geology and microclimates, stressed by the wind, heat and poor organic soil, the surprising conduciveness of this land for grapes is demonstrated, near harvest time, like a rippling sea of lush green vine leaves crowning the plump clusters of fruit. White Limestone outcrops, spiky Garrigue (wild herb-like bushes), lines of Cypress tree windbreaks and sunbaked Terra Cotta tile-capped stone houses complete the characterful portrait of Corbières.

As with the free-spirited land, wine producing regulations are less stringent thaN in the neighbouring Burgundy or Bordeaux regions, allowing for a broader range of cultivation practices, permissible grape varieties, and blending proportions. The best Corbières wines can now claim a unique standing among other long-established appellations, and though you’ll find this prolific winery on the regular LCBO shelves, this limited release is only in the Vintages section — emblazoned with a remarkably modest sticker price!

Corbieres

GÉRARD BERTRAND TERROIR CORBIERES 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #394288 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Roussillon, France
By: Gérard Bertrand
Release Date: August 20, 2016

Tasting Note
As a blend of 3 fulsome grape varieties that have evidently reached full maturity before harvest, this is a herb-tinged, fruity wine style that’s best for heartier food fare such as stuffed peppers, meatballs in a spicy tomato and olive sauce, grilled meats. Or if slightly chilled, as an apéritif alongside ripe cheeses.

Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages Syrah

In terms of cultural history, Les Roussillonnais of southwest France arguably have as much in common with their Catalan neighbours in Spain as they do with their Occitan-speaking cousins in the adjacent territory known as Pays de Langue d’oc (Languedoc). Through most of the medieval period, Roussillon vacillated as a border region between these two peoples though was mostly ruled by the Counts of Barcelona as a part of Catalonia; in the modern age it has deferred to its French heritage and become bound up in Languedoc-Roussillon. More than just a political marriage, it’s a hybrid of Mediterranean shore lands and craggy inland geography; framed by the Rhône River Valley eastward, and the Pyrenees that divide Spain and France to the west. The wine world, however, still references these twinned regions as separate sets of distinct winemaking terroirs, and so we should!

Originally founded at the turn of the 19th century, the Maison M. Chapoutier has progressively built up and expanded its broad portfolio of mature vineyards next door in the Southern Rhône. In recent decades, it continues to forge ahead with developing new properties and partnerships in various parts of Roussillon while also applying organic growing practices. For this bottling, the fruit comes from younger plots in the Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages AOP. Part of the hilly, northern reaches of Roussillon, the appellation encompasses 32 towns in one of the sunniest areas of France — where cool winters, hot summers, moderate levels of rainfall, and the drying Mistral breezes combine to create peak growing conditions for the dark-skinned grape varieties now thriving here.

maison-chapoutier

Clinging to slopes of the high Agly Valley, terraced vineyards are the source for this weeks’ DéClassé feature of Vignes de Bila-Haut 2014. Poetically described by vintner, Michel Chapoutier, as ‘an old plot of land, rough, almost hostile,’ his references illustrate an ancient geology made up of crushed Gneiss and Schist: mineral-rich types of sedimentary rock laden with limestone and chalk deposits. It’s also taken a while for Roussillon’s winemakers to discover and build an understanding that this landscape heaved into prominences and scrubland outcrops, is highly conducive to cultivating the sorts of grapevines that will yield fulsome yet still bright and lively red wines.

Using only hand-harvested grapes, this assembled blend incorporates three of the AOP mandated varieties: Syrah, providing spice and aromas imparted from the wild Garrigue of fragrant, flowering shrubs; Black Grenache to add firmness and body, and the region’s signature grape, Carignan, offering some crisp tannic notes. Aiming to create a fresher style of red, his recipe never sees an influence of wood barrels, rather it’s briefly aged in vats; producing wine that’s intended to be enjoyed young over the next several years. It’s time to reaffirm what so many prudent LCBO Vintage’s customers already know: if you want to invigorate patio dinners in the months to come, inexpensively, then dare to buy a whole case!

Bila-Haut

LES VIGNES BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2014
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #168716 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
14.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Midi, France
By: Maison M. Chapoutier
Release Date: July 9, 2016

Tasting Note
Deep garnet red with dark berry flavours, hints of vanilla and spice notes, this is a pleasingly uncomplicated, rustic wine that could stand to be chilled slightly when served during the summer heat. Try with grilled lamb chops, lentils with spicy sausage or a Ratatouille made with fire-roasted vegetables.

Roussillon Alert

The Maison M. Chapoutier, originally founded in 1808 and having established
a portfolio of mature vineyards next door in the southern Rhône, continues to
forge ahead with the development of new properties while also applying organic
wine growing methods. This week’s DéClassé recommended bottling draws on
fruit from more recently developed vineyards in the Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages
designated region. This appellation is part of the hillier, northern Roussillon and
is among the sunniest areas of France. Cool winters, hot summers, moderate
levels of rainfall and the drying breezes of the ‘Mistral’ winds combine to create
ideal conditions for the dark-skinned grapes varieties which thrive here.

Vineyards for Vignes de Bila-Haut are located mainly on the terraced slopes of
the high Agly Valley in Roussillon. Described by the vintner as ‘an old plot of land,
rough, almost hostile’, this is a geologically ancient territory of crushed Gneiss
and Schist: a mineral-rich rock laden with limestone and chalk deposits. In terms
of cultural history, Roussillon in south-west France, has as much in common with
Catalonia in Spain as it does with its neighbours in French Languedoc.

Boasting of using only hand-harvested grapes, this blend incorporates Syrah,
providing spice and aromas imparted from the local Garrigue (wild, fragrant,
flowering shrubs), Grenache, to add the firmness and body that results from
being sourced off mature vines and the region’s signature grape Carignan,
offering some crisp, tannic notes. Aiming to create a refreshing style of red,
this recipe never sees the influence of wood barrels, rather it’s aged in large
vats, yielding wine that’s intended to be enjoyed young over the next 2 years.

Building on a wealth of rich traditions, local vintners are working diligently to
develop wine making reputations which extend beyond regional popularity by
elevating quality while remaining price-competitive. Buying half a case would be
a prudent investment in a highly appealing, medium-bodied red to round out the
outdoor patio dinner fare in the warmer months to come

Bila Haut

LES VIGNES BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON-VILLAGES 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #168716 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 15.95
13.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Midi, France
By: Maison M. Chapoutier
Release Date: Apr. 18, 2015

Tasting Note
Deep garnet red with dark berry flavours, hint of chocolate and coffee notes,
this is a pleasingly uncomplicated, rustic wine that could stand to be chilled
slightly when served during summer months. Try with lamb chops, ratatouille,
stews or lentils with sausage.