I first encountered this wine in the "values" section of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. It happened to be stocked by one of my local stores, so I picked up a bottle, and I was really impressed, to the point of thinking that this was probably the best $12 bottle of wine I've ever tasted. That opinion hasn't changed over the years, and I try to have a few of these bottles always lying around because it's a lot of fun to drink with food.
This wine comes to us through the efforts of Robert Kacher, who has a singleminded focus on finding small, mostly undiscovered producers all over France who produce extremely high quality wines at incredible values. In this case, he has discovered a small (25 hectare) estate high in the hills in the Minervois region, northeast of the town of Carcassone in Southern France. Owners Michel and Sylvie Escande keep their yields extremely low (10 grape bunches per vine) and hand harvest the grapes as late as possible to maximize the concentration of flavors in the fruit.
The blend here is mostly Syrah, with some of the other usual suspects that make appearances in the Languedoc/Minervois: Carignan and Grenache. I don't know much about the winemaking, other than it is unoaked and bottled unfiltered and unfined.
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis, smoke, wet leather, earth, and sawdust. On the tongue it displays soft tannins, and flavors of prunes/plums spices, smoke, and figs with a decent finish. This wine gives the overall impression that its name "spirit of autumn" might imply -- an earthy warm wine that feels like fall.
Even though this wine might feel like fall, it's a great wine for summer because it perfectly complements rich grilled meats and can stand up to the tangy smoke of BBQ sauces. I've served this several times with ribs, and would recommend it as a pairing for barbecued beef ribs with molasses-bourbon sauce.
Overall Score: 9
How much?: $11-12
I buy mine from various online merchants. Try Wine Searcher.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Wine and Beauty Explained San Francisco's Lost Sommeliers Finding Pirate Treasure With a Corkscrew Vinography Unboxed: Week of March 1, 2015 Vinography Images: Sonoma Spring Siduri Wines: Rewarding the Search for Flavor Vinography Unboxed: Week of February 22, 2015 Vinography Images: Frost and Fog The Glory of 2013 Napa Cabernet: Tasting Premiere Napa Valley A Dose of Claret: Visiting With 2010 Bordeaux
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune