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Domaine de Fontsainte Corbieres Reserve La Demoiselle 2015
#50 wine in VinePair's Top 50 of 2018
Limpid and garnet-colored, darkened by purple tints. The colored legs run slowly and cling to the glass. The penetrating bouquet offers up a festival of aromas including jammy red fruits, vanilla pods, pepper and freshly-milled nutmeg. Emblematic notes of the garrigue heath mingle with this supremely harmonious ensemble. A magnificent balance is achieved between the superb and savory tannins and the fatness and elegance of the mouth. The wine explodes on the palate and finishes at length with notes of crushed almonds.
Blend: 60% Carignan (100 years old), 30% Grenache Noir, 10% Mourvedre
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Domaine de Fontsainte is in the heart of the Corbieres' celebrated 'Golden Crescent' - one of the appellation’s most beautiful and beneficent terroirs. Fontsainte's intensely sunny, gently sloping, south south-east facing vineyards shelter from cold north-east winds on the flank of a 500-hectare pinewood massif. The domain dominates the landscape around the hamlet of Boutenac, enjoying panoramic views. Fontsainte's vineyards, just 90m in altitude, benefit from a pristine environment (far from industrial or urban developments) plus alternating Mediterranean and oceanic influences.
Roman artifacts found on the domain - like the bronze coin bearing the head of Marcus Agrippa (c. 25AD) that adorns our Centurion wine - attest to Fontsainte's ancient origins: a Roman officer created the domain around a thermal spring. The name Fontsainte ('the saint's fount') comes from the nearby 12th century Hermitage of Saint-Simeon, who became the patron saint of Boutenac. Two chateaux dominated the landscape in the middle ages: Fort Haut and Fort Bas. Only the latter remains today - it’s now the headquarters of the Corbieres' winegrowers syndicat.
A significant appellation in the Languedoc region of southern France, Corbières produces impressively dense red wines from Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and often very old vine Carignan. While rarely mentioned, the region’s fresh dry whites and rosés shouldn’t be overlooked.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.