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Circus Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Generous blackberry and currant aromas are supported by a firm, rounded tannic structure with balanced acidity and a hint of vanilla oak.
Well matched with red meats, hearty casseroles and flavorful cheeses.
Blend: 60% estate-grown Shiraz; 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.
All three Circus wines originate at L'Ostal Cazes, a 370-acre property in La Livinière purchased by the Cazes family in 2002. The estate, which includes 150 acres of vines, extensive olive groves and a state-of-the-art winery, represents a fruitful conclusion to years of careful searching on the part of Jean-Michel and Jean-Charles. Winemaking is overseen by family friend and colleague, Daniel Llose, who has worked alongside Jean-Michel Cazes for over 30 years as managing winemaker at Château Lynch-Bages, Ormes de Pez and other Cazes family estates.
With Circus, Jean-Michel, Jean-Charles and Daniel Llose have set out to create quality wines that reflect the character of local grape varieties and terroir. Vineyards are planted primarily with Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Carignan.
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good-quality and value-priced wines, Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the world’s largest wine-producing region, spanning the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to Rhône. Languedoc forms the eastern half of the larger appellation, while Roussillon is in the west; the two actually have quite distinct personalities but are typically grouped together. Languedoc’s terrain is generally flat coastal plains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and a frequent risk of drought. Roussillon, on the other hand, is defined by the rugged Pyrenees mountains and near-constant sunshine.
Virtually every style of wine is made in this expansive region. Dry wines are often blends, and varietal choice is 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, Maccabéo, Clairette, Piquepoul and Bourbelenc.
International varieties are also planted in large numbers here, in particular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In Roussillon, excellent sweet wines are made from Muscat and Grenache in Rivesaltes, Banyuls and Maury. 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 hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.