Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chateau Puech-Haut and the Languedoc

As we have been saying here, the Languedoc is the region of France that produces most of the wine for export to the United States. Many of these wines have been marketed as "fighting varietals" in the eighties and "critter wines" in the nineties but I would prefer to call them "cafe wines" now. They are usually popular varietals that are made in the style Americans love, lots of forward fruit and moderate acidity. They are on a par with most of what comes from California and often at a much better price.

Friday evening at our weekly tasting here we experienced a certain 2009 Chateau Puech-Haut Prestige. All I knew about the wine was its 93 point Parker rating and $20 price tag. It quickly became apparent, this wine was special indeed, one of the best we have tasted in this series. First things first, though, let's look at the Languedoc.

Puech-Haut hails from St. Drezery near Pic-St-Loup in the Coteaux du Languedoc which is a largely meaningless overlay covering most of the Languedoc. The soils are alluvial over limestone bedrock. The climate is mediterranean with marine effects from the Mediterranean Sea twelve miles away. Carignan and Cinsaut, two bulk wine varieties used for blending in the past, have now been largely replaced by the Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre of the Cotes du Rhone. One can anticipate that the current successes of the region will lead to an elevated status in the near future.

Chateau Puech-Haut Prestige is 45% Syrah and 55% Grenache and features aromas and flavors of raspberry, black pepper, and black fruit. It is amazingly floral in the nose and the mouth but its most striking feature is the breadth of its body felt on the tongue with a correspondingly long rich finish. This wine was most definitely contemplative.

Puech-Haut is a European Cellars Eric Solomon Selection, a pedigree amongst importers. "Place Over Process" on the back label refers to the terroir of the vineyards and the primacy of that universe over what happens in the winery proper, which only seems right as a contrast to the everyday wine made and marketed to Americans.

Try Puech-Haut this week with a ten percent discount by citing this blog or get a twenty percent discount on a piece of cheese by jumping up and down and saying "Woof"!

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