You may have noticed a few new wines in the store from regions you might not be too familiar with. We recently receieved some awesome wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France. Two appellations that we're currently featuring are Corbières and Fitou. These regions in the Western Languedoc are known for being arguably the best place on the planet for the Carignan grape.
You've probably heard of Carignan (sometimes "Carignane"). It is often used as a blending grape, but in these two regions, it is the star of the show. In fact, Fitou requires its wines to be a minimum 40% Carignan. These wines are also blended with Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah. For years, Carignan has gotten a bad reputation. It can be rather high in tannins and acidity, and is definitely more funky than its Languedoc counterparts, so the other varietals get added to help mellow it out a bit. But when made well, Carignan can be delightful. Typically featuring a deep purple color, Carignan is rustic and has a dry, herbal spiciness. Red fruits can be present, but not as prominent as what you would find in Grenache. One of the best aspects of Carignan is that it almost always has a long, lingering finish.
Here at Kahn's, we have some excellent wines from Corbières and Fitou that beautifully showcase what can be done with the Carignan grape when it is well-made. Here are a five great options:
Chateau d'Arse Fitou 2012
This wine is dark in color with purple hues. The nose is fresh with aromas of red fruit and then pepper, and even some hints of licorice. Excellent tannins as well as marvelously complex flavors. Perfectly balanced with an explosion of aromas and flavors.
Chateau de Cascastel "Cuvée Exception" Fitou 2012
A dark ruby red colour with a complex bouquet of red and spicy fruits. Full-bodied with rounded tannins. Ideal accompaniment for roasted or grilled meats.
Chateau de Cascastel "Selection Vieilles Vignes" Fitou 2012
The nose has hints of garrigue as well as grilled notes followed by aromas of red fruits and spices. The mouth is full, fleshy, and concentrated with a remarkable aromatic range. The woody taste is very well integrated and brings to this wine elegance and an intense length.
Chateau de Cascastel "Heritage de Bonnafous" Corbières 2012
Complex with hints of vanilla and spices, well ripened fruits and a subtle truffle note. This complexity is confirmed in the palate with a racy and elegant taste. Round and wide velvet tannins highlight its length and freshness.
Chateau du Grand Caumont Corbières 2011
Fresh picked berry notes mixed with a wild flowers and brittle dried herbs, all with a light to medium weight and perfectly balancing tannins. Not as much juicy as it is savory and floral, this is a wine that is suited for nearly anything in a warm satisfying braise, grilled or roasted.
Wines comprised of large percentages of Carignan, like the ones from Corbières and Fitou, pair wonderfully with more rustic dishes like Cassoulet and other hearty stews, sausages like Chorizo or Andouille, lamb roasts, Morrocan dishes, and gamier meats like duck or rabbit. Carignan also works beautifully with anything grilled...think grilled pork chops rubbed with black pepper and herbs, or even a nice fatty steak!
Stop by Kahn's and pick up a bottle of one of these fantastic wines and see what you've been missing when Carignan is the star! Cheers!