Char-grilled meat, anyone? Steak, of course, chicken too. Heck, meaty eggplant or portobellos also work. As long as there’s that crusty char—and bonus points for a sharp, spicy sauce or marinade—then you have what, in my opinion, makes a great summer-time pairing with a rustic red from southern France.
“Received wisdom” designates whites and rosés as the default warm-weather wines. But, with some foods, only earthy reds will do.
Furthermore, if you’re like me, and savoring memories and/or wishes of a past or future trip to Languedoc-Roussillon, then you’re looking to discover good values from this region in any season.
I was sharing some experiences from a recent trip to the area when I last posted here. (An unexpected death in my family followed by a period of general discombobulation knocked me off my blog-writing routine in recent months.) Since then, I continued exploring the region, viticulturally, so it’s worth giving a shout-out to a few wines I’ve especially liked.
Here is one: Domaine Grand Guilhem Fitou. I tried the 2008 vintage ($18 from Sherry-Lehmann), a 47% Grenache Noir-40% Carignan-10% Syrah-3% Mourvèdre blend. Its intensity could be fading, so I’d look for a later vintage next time for comparison. The wine has a sharp nose, stony and mossy, giving an impression of entering an underground cellar.
But don’t let the nose deter you. While the finish wasn’t long, on the palate the wine is at once smoky, pruney and vegetal, depending on whether and how long it is decanted.
For me, knowing something about the winemakers enhances my appreciation of the product. Domain owners and winemakers Severine and Gilles Contrepois secured organic designation in 2004 for their 25 acres of vineyards. The property sits in Fitou, an oddly bifurcated (into two non-continuguous areas) appellation of Languedoc between Perpignan and Narbonne, near the village of Cascatel.
I’d love to try Grand Guilhem’s other wines (Corbières white and rosé, and three vins doux), but they’re hard to find in the U.S.
There is a solution, however: pay a visit and stay a night or two. (The Contrepois double as innkeepers, with two guesthouses and four guest rooms in the vintage-19th century main house.)