In a nutshell: A rich yet clean red Vin Doux Naturel made from Grenache around the French Mediterranean town of Banyuls, right on the Spanish border.
The lowdown: A speciality of southern France Vins Doux Naturel are fortified sweet wines and if you think along lines of Port with these you'll be heading in the right sort of area. Made from 100% Grenache which has been aged in vat for eight months after vinification and fortification this sumptuous red is more of a dessert wine in style. The aromas have a freshness and subtlety about them with a touch of cocoa sitting among the rich, ripe black fruits and stewed fruits. The fine tannins give it a silky feel in the mouth while the well judged acidity leaves it clean and fresh and it moves to the lingering finish.
When to drink: With an opulent feel it's the sort of thing that rounds off a meal really well alongide things like blue cheese, chocolate fondant desserts, or rich fruit cake.
Domaine de Bila-Haut is a part of M. Chapuotier's impressive stable of estates. This one is in the Roussillon village of Latour-de-France in Catalan France just north of the Spanish border.
Michel Chapoutier's continual pursuit of great terroir took him south from the Rhône to the Roussillon in 2000, where he bought land in the village of Latour de France, known for its stony soil terraces and rich geological background. Here, incredibly old vines with low yields deliver minerality and complexity for Carignan, Grenache and Syrah vines.
The white from the Domaine is the product of north-facing slopes, granite and calcareous soils, and a blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macabeo grapes. The red wine comes from vines high above the Agly Valley where soils are composed of gneiss and schist from the Devonian period. Hand-harvested Carignan, Grenache and Syrah grapes reveal a well-structured, warm wine very much in the spirit of the Roussillon.