Monday, November 27, 2006

2003 Chateau Coupe Roses Minervois Cuvee Vignals

If you are looking for a fantastic red wine to serve with beef or other hearty winter fare, look no further than the 2003 Chateau Coupe Roses Minervois Cuvee Vignals ($16.99). I first saw this wine at Fowler's in downtown Durham, NC, where I was immediately drawn to the label (sucker for anything that looks like an old woodblock print) and was told that everyone in the store was talking about the wine. Then, to my surprise, I found it at the Surf Super in downtown Gualala. Unless you are located on the Sonoma coast between Stewart's Point and Elk, you are not shopping at the Surf Super. If you live in New Jersey, however, or are willing to have wine shipped, you are in luck. Wine-Searcher reveals that quite a few of these beauties are still available for purchase, and for even less than the $16.99 I paid for this.

Chateau Coupe Roses is owned by Francoise and Pascal Frissant. Located in the Languedoc, where Occitan culture flourished in the Middle Ages, and religious heresies were stamped out by church crusades. This was Cathar country, for the historians out there. The wine produced in the Minervois AOC is 96% red. The Wine Doctor has a great piece on the wines of the Minervois region, for those who aren't familiar with it. At Chateau Coupe Roses, they produce both whites and reds, and on their website, they talk about the alchemy that occurs in their region where a mix of high altitude coolness, and Mediterranean sunshine, provides the climate for the growing grapes.

This was a beautiful wine, from the moment the cork was pulled until the last unfiltered, unfined dregs settled in the empty glasses. Let me say right off the bat that if you close your eyes and don't read the label this smells and tastes like a fine Chauteauneuf du Pape from the Rhone. It is made of syrah, grenache, and old vine carignan. Dark, inky ruby in color, it had blackberry and sweet, heady aromas. Once you tasted it, there was more blackberry, and the briary garrigue notes characteristic of fine Mediterranean wine. Garrigue is an herbal, brushy flavor that is like no other flavor or aroma out there, but if you've been to the region and smelled the hot sun beat down on the scrub by the roads, you will recognize it. There was a long, spicy aftertaste and it still showed some tannins and grip around the edges. But in another year or so I imagine it will be perfectly integrated and even more luscious. At 13% alc./vol. it is proof that a wine doesn't need to be alcoholic and huge to deliver complex flavors.

We had this excellent wine with a ragu alla bolognese from an old copy of Cooking Light. A mixture of ground pork, veal, and beef were simmered with the classic bolognese vegetables (onion, celery, and carrots) for a long time, before some tomatoes and milk are added. It is somehow less oppressively tomatoey than a normal tomato-based meat ragu, and has a greater depth of flavor from the slow cooking with the vegetables. Perfect with this rich, flavorful wine from the Languedoc.

Only 600 cases of the 2003 Chateau Coupe Roses Minervois Cuvee Vignals were imported to the US, so run out and get some or order some on line if you possibly can. This wine represented excellent QPR, and was better than wines I've had that were twice or three times the price.


Marcus said...

I recently tried the 2005 vintage and it's great stuff.

A good candidate for WBW 33.


Dr. Debs said...

Good to know the 2005 is good, too! I hope folks will seek this wine out for WBW 33. I'm going to the wine store to check out some Coteaux de Languedoc wines. I've had several under $15, but this will be a treat to try some over $15. Thanks for the great theme! See you May 16.