Bila-Haut by Michel Chapoutier Occultum Lapidem 2012
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Domaine Bila-Haut is owned by the well known Rhone Valley Oenologist, Michel Chapoutier. The name refers to an old farm villa which was built high into the mountain slopes , among some old vineyards. The Domaine comprises 75 hectares of land cultivated under bio-dynamic farming techniques and is characterized by steep pebbly slopes rising from almost 150 meters above sea level. The soil has 3 components…Schiste, Gneiss and Clay, and the Grape varieties are Grenache, Carignan, and of course Syrah. The cool winters and very hot summers combined with little rain, and the drying Mistral breeze during the growing season is perfection for these varietals…in some respects better than in the Rhone Valley. The Domaine is located in the commune of Latour-de-France…just about as close as you can be to Spain, but still be located in France, with a great deal of history related to the Nights Templar, and the Cathar movement, hence the T in the title of the Domaine shaped like the Nights Templar Cross.The wines exhibit the distinctive pepper and spice of Syrah, but are bigger and rounder in the mouth, with great complexity coming from the Carignan and Grenache. Here is A Rhone producer getting the best out of the Terroir in Lanquedoc… a superb combination! And one of the best Wine Makers in France.
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good quality and great values, Languedoc spans the Mediterranean coast from the Pyrenees mountains of Roussillon all the way to the Rhône Valley. Languedoc’s terrain is generally flat coastal plains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and frequent risk of drought.
Virtually every style of wine is made in this expansive region. Most dry wines are blends with varietal choice strongly influenced by the neighboring Rhône Valley. For reds and rosés, the primary grapes include Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre. White varieties include Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Ugni Blanc, Vermentino, Macabéo, Clairette, Piquepoul and Bourbelenc.
International varieties are also planted in large numbers here, in particular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The key region for sparkling wines here is Limoux, where Blanquette de Limoux is believed to have been the first sparkling wine made in France, even before Champagne. Crémant de Limoux is produced in a more modern style.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.