Monday, November 26, 2012

Make mine a Minervois

The Minervois is an appellation that I just adore.  It’s absolutely wild and gorgeous, and the best wines showcase this terroir.  The better examples have a certain spiciness and minerality that you don’t always find in the region.  However, too many are jammy and flabby or are trying to respond to what they think are “market tastes”.  And, granted, it is HOT around these parts.

So when I met Anne-Marie Coustal and her husband Roland (isn’t that a cool name too?) at a local tasting held in an ancient abbey, I found myself going back several times to their stand.  Their wines were alive and had a certain nervosité (a nervous energy), as they say in French.  Turns out there’s a reason why: they are hand-making wine using old-fashioned traditional methods on some very, very rough and uneven soils.

 The Coustals took over the winery from Anne-Marie’s parents in 2001, just before her father, Georges, the winery’s namesake, passed.  They farm 12 hectares (29.65 acres) in small, stony plots between Tourouzelle and Castelnau d’Aude.  Their vines, aged between 10 and 60 years old, are densely planted (4500-5500/ha) in some wild terrain, surrounded by guarrigue and woodland.  Sustainable agriculture while leaning organic is the preferred practice in their rocky plots, and everything is manually harvested with berry triage to ensure the quality and health of the grapes.  The temperature-controlled fermentation is slow, varying between 22 and 35 days depending on the cuvee and the vintage.  Unfiltered, unfined, their AOC wines are gorgeous, spicy, well-balanced, medium- bodied reds from Syrah, Grenache, Carignan , and Mourvèdre.  This is a true family affair, one to pay attention to.

The first wine to arrive, their Et Cetera (see label at top- 40% Grenache, 40% Carignan, 20% Syrah) is a bright yet dark juicy-fruited wine with some red berry notes dancing on a medium-bodied frame with a core of minerality, that ends in a long, succulent finish.  A stunner at this price point, that’s for certain.

It's a real honor to be importing these wines.  My customers quickly recognized their quality, and so they've just gone off to Chicago and New Orleans, as well as NY and NJ, so we might be on to something here.  Seeing that makes me giddy, and not just for the business side.  I love finding little gems like this.  If you try this wine, please let me know what you think.

And thanks for your support!

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