Monday, March 15, 2010

Beyond The Wine Lake

I grabbed this bottle from the Best Buys shelves at Everything Wine in North Vancouver awhile back. This is not a good place for me to go while I'm still on the "No Buy Leash." Loosened or not, I feel the leash around my neck the moment I walk through the door. Such a fun place to just wander around. My problem is restraining the arm that reaches out to all the bottles singing their siren song.

393. 2006 Domaine de Fabregues - Le Coeur Rouge (AOC Coteaux du Languedoc - France)

Domaine de Fabregues is a new player on the French wine scene. The Languedoc has been involved in wine production for centuries; however, this winery was only started up in 2005 when Carine Despinasse and her husband Sebastian Pichot (already a grape grower when they met) bought the vineyard because they felt there was plenty of potential not being realized from all old vine fruit being grown there.

As such, the couple epitomizes much of what is happening in this vast wine growing area in the South of France called Coteaux du Languedoc. This appellation and some of the neighbouring regions were more known, during the 20th Century, for their over-production and cheap wines. When talking of the over-abundance of grapes and the European "wine lake," writers invariably included the Languedoc as a primary cause.

The turn of the 21st Century has seen the region in a great deal of flux. One of the larger appellations in France, it can be broken down into a number of sub-regions. As many producers in the appellation move forward with a more modern approach - including lower quantity and higher quality - many of the sub-regions are now working towards a potential graduation to being named appellations of their own.

In general, the region is now being looked to for value and wines with a profile to compete with other newly competitive wine regions around the world.

Traditionally, the region has grown varietals similar to those found in the near-by Rhone and that, no doubt, plays a part in the Domaine de Fabregues vineyards having the old vine varietals that it does. Le Coeur is a 50/50 blend of Syrah and Carignan. The latter is generally seen as a lesser varietal and the vigorous planting of the grape in Southern France played a big part in the previously mentioned "wine lake." Carignan is not generally seen as a straight varietal wine; however, with lower yields, the grape is successfully used as a blending partner primarily for Syrah and/or Grenache as its tendency to higher acidity and tannins is often used to add a rusticity and big fruit to the wine.

As the region continues to move forward in production values, we're likely to see more and more wines like Le Coeur appearing on our shelves. And that won't be a bad thing in the least.

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