#22 – 2011 Gérard Bertrand Syrah/Carignan – Minervois, France

Estimated retail: $20

Anyone who claims French wine is too expensive is suffering from a bad case of tunnel vision. If you’re looking at Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne, then yes there is some validity, but that’s like calculating Houston home prices by searching only in the famed River Oaks District. Wine is like real estate. The better or more famous the location, the fewer bargains you’ll find. Fortunately wine is full of upward trending neighborhoods and France is no exception.

The Languedoc-Roussillon region is in the Southern Rhône Valley. It runs from the edge of the Rhône all the way to the Mediterranean Sea and the border with Spain. At the turn of the century this area produced more wine than America. Granted a lot if it was inexpensive bulk wine, but the good stuff has been getting better by the year. Minervois gained it’s appellation status in the mid-’80s and has lead the rise in quality. It’s home to excellent sweet wines, dry whites, and most notably flavorful reds crafted from Carignan, Mouvedre, Grenache, and Syrah grapes.

Gérard Bertrand is arguably the winery of the Languedoc. Over the last 20 years they’ve acquired some fantastic small estates while adopting both sustainable and biodynamic farming practices. Their Minervois focuses on Carignan and Syrah. It embraces the palate with a warm mix of decadent cherry, charred plum, and brambly berry. The voluptuous fruit is joined by an inviting array of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and oak. Lusher than a typical Rhône blend, this wine makes for a fun evening — the perfect beauty to accompany gamey beasts such as grilled lamb chops. ∞

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