Bila-Haut by Michel Chapoutier Occultum Lapidem 2018
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Also terrific, with lots of cassis, jammy blackberries, crushed rocks, and pepper notes, the 2018 Côtes Du Roussillon Villages Latour De France Occultum Lapidem is medium to full-bodied, has wonderful purity of fruit, no hard edges, and a great finish Rating: 92-94
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 appellation solely for dry red wines from Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon-Villages is a step up in quality compared to, simply, Côtes du Roussillon. The area is in the northern third of Roussillon, bordered on its southern end by the Têt River, which runs precisely from west to east. Five villages can append their own name to the Côtes du Roussillon-Villages appellation name: Caramany, Latour de France, Lesquerde, Tautavel and the last, south of the Têt River, Les Aspres.
Côtes du Roussillon-Villages red wines are blends made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and small amounts of Carignan, Cinsault and the lesser known, Lledoner Pelut (a relative of Grenache).
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.