In a nutshell: A rich and intense Côtes du Roussillon red from the hot south of France near the Spanish border.
The lowdown: The Côtes du Roussillon is in the southern Catalan part of France around Perpignan and this cuvéee from Domaine Lafage perfectly captures the essence of the big reds for which this area is best known. It's a blend of Carignan from the vineyards in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Syrah from pebbly soils near the coast and Grenache from the schist soils of the Agly valley. It's intense and fruity on the nose with a whole range of chocolate, liquorice and floral flavours and aromas intermingling on the tongue. Generously juicy, it's got a well balanced structure, rounded tannins and an elegant, lengthy finish.
When to drink: With its rounded tannins and generous flavours it's great with grilled meats like lamb chops.
Jean-Marc Lafages family has been growing grapes in Roussillon for six generations but it was Jean-Marc who had the ambition to stop selling the grapes to the local co-op and create his own domaine so that he could produce wines with reflecting his own style and apporach. He and his oenologist wife, Eliane, founded Domaine Lafage in 1996 and the estate now runs to some 138 hectares of vines across Roussillon, with parcels in the Agly Valley, Aspres and Perpignan.
The Agly Valley, with its black shale and layered schist soil in the shadow of ruined Cathar castles is one of Europes most exciting terroirs. Eliane and Jean-Marc specialise in growing old vines that impart pronounced minerality and concentration to their wines. Whilst the region is best known for its reds they whites they produce are of the absolute best quality and certainly shouldnt be overlooked.