Dark loamy earth. The smell of your backyard just after it rains. Combine a little fruit with that, a touch of tannins, and you've got the wines of the Minervois. I've raved about them before, so I'll avoid extolling the virtues again, other than to say that they are a trove of surprises for those palates who have some familiarity with the benchmark French appellations.
I first discovered the Minervois appellation through wines from Robert Katcher Selections. Specifically, the first one that ever made me sit up and take notice was the Borie de Maurel Esprit d'Autumn. $11 of smoky Syrah, Grenache and Carignan that I love to drink with food. Minervois has got some fantastic wines at great values.
This wine is dark brick red with a nose that blossoms with anise, leather, and a hint of juniper, all carried along in a stream of cassis and plum. The blackcurrant and plum flavors carry forward into the body of the wine which is thick with fruit and smoke. The wines medium finish is characterized by a lovely floral note, which I'll call nasturtium, though others may read it differently.
This is a wine that does well with very rich, fatty foods like sausage or ossobucco. I think the idea pairing would be with a meat dish that had a slight sweet component driven by fruit or tomatoes, like the heavenly braised lamb shanks with white beans.
Overall Score: 8.5
How much?: I paid $25 in a restaurant, probably retails for $18-$20.
This wine may be very tough to find in the U.S. It is a small producer and an up and coming region that falls below the radar of most wine consumers. None of the usual Internet retailers came up with anything. If you can't find this specific wine, consider this review merely a recommendation for the region, and go try something Minervois.
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