2010 Oinos “Les Capucins” Coteaux du Languedoc

Hello friends. When it comes to wine, I have some preconceived notions. Which can be admittedly useful for cutting through clutter. And which can also be extremely limiting. Today’s offering reminded me of that.

My preconceived notion about the Languedoc: it’s a sun-scorched part of southern France, over-cropped into oblivion, producing a never-ending series of vapid, vacuous bottles; an area marketed as France’s value garden, when we all know that the Loire Valley is the real source of French value.

And while that may be the rule, it’s chasing the exceptions that is the fun of this game. Wines that blow up our preconceived notions are the ones that burrow deep into our brains. And that’s what we have today.

When Jerome Calmes finished enology school, he had a problem. He wanted to continue living in the Languedoc. And he wanted to make elegant, terroir-expressive wines. Those two statements seem at odds, but Jerome solved the riddle. Instead of moving away, he moved up.

My preconceived notions about the Languedoc were immediately blown up by this picture from Jerome’s website. Snow? Snow! (Not to mention, those are some old gnarled vines). His Oinos Vins de Mediterranee winery is located here, in the foothills of the Caroux Mountains, and that’s where he farms his vineyards too. Unlike the sun-baked flatlands, these schist slopes see cooler climates and big diurnal shifts; perfect for making balanced wines.

Les Capucins (named after the rabbits that roam these foothills and probably end up in the braising pot with this wine; yum) is Syrah dominant, at 75% of the blend, rounded out with Grenache. Jerome uses no new wood, in order to emphasize the freshness of the fruit, and to keep the tariff at an ultra-accessible level.

I was blown away by this one. Give it an hour open to let some initial reductive notes blow off, and then watch this transform into a sultry beauty, with smoke, and roast beef (or maybe roast rabbit), white flowers, and marionberry fruit. The palate combines old-world charm and new-world lushness, and it’s extremely polished for this price category, offering a fine sense of balance, and a real intensity of fruit. It coats the palate in savory-fruity-minerally Syrah glory, all black fruit and beef stock and slate.

First come first served up to 24 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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