Hello friends. We kiss frogs. It’s Full Pull’s unofficial motto. We kiss all the slimy, warty, bloated frogs; we discard the duds; and we present you with the princes.
And let me tell you: when you’re looking for red wines at a $10 price point, it is frog city, a breeding ground for frogs, a teeming mass of frogs, frogs upon frogs, and you kiss and kiss and kiss until your chapped bleeding lips can take no more. And then every once in awhile you find a prince:
We’re value hunting today, and we’re doing so in one of the great wine regions in the world to find value: Roussillon. We’ve talked about this region a few times before, mostly in the context of Chapoutier’s Bila-Haut project. That, of course, is high-end by Roussillon standards.
While wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux and the Rhone and the Loire get the bulk of the publicity, it’s Languedoc-Roussillon that is the real engine room of French wine. And admittedly: a lot of it is forgettable plonk that should be distilled as soon as possible. But if you dig a little, this is a region where you can fine old-vine gems.
Notre Dame de Laval is a bottle produced by a wonderful little Rousillon co-op called Vignobles d’Agly. It’s a collections of growers and winemakers in this neck of the woods who have banded together to produce wine in one larger cooperative winery. The hilly Agly valley contains all sorts of interesting soils, but Notre Dame de Laval comes predominantly from schist (which looks like this).
It’s a pretty typical blend for this part of the world – 45% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 25% Syrah – but what is atypical, and crazy given the tariff, is the vine age. The Syrah is 15 years old. Okay, no big deal. But the Grenache: 40 year old vines. And the Carignan? Even older: 50 years! Thank goodness this region remains so inconsistent and unsexy, because it depresses pricing even for old-vine bottles like this one.
NDdL clocks in at 13.5% listed alc, and it kicks off with a great nose combining deep brambly berry fruit with slow-smoked meats. In the mouth, you immediately notice the depth, the richness, the terrific rustic charm. It’s a delicious fruit-driven wine, but that solid whack of Carignan offers its characteristic earthy/brothy funk, adding complexity and intrigue to the package. The finishing lick of angostura bitters is the perfect foil to all the lush fruit. The co-op suggests pairing this with duck breast or hare or maybe roasted wild boar. That might work in the Pyrenees foothills; closer to home, this strikes me as a ne plus ultra summer BBQ wine.
It’d make a damn fine mid-week house wine or wedding wine or summer party wine too, so let’s open it up: first come first served up to 120 bottles, and the wine should arrive next week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.