So there I was cruising along in the magical canary-yellow FIAT 500 convertible; roof down and music playing when all of a sudden the left turn signal goes on! The car starts down-shifting, the brakes engage, and I come to a complete stop. This could only mean one thing: the factory installed Wine-dar was going off. I checked the screen and, wouldn’t you know, I had arrived in Minervois, France!
Where the hell is Minervois, you ask? Minervois is a long, “crescent”-shaped region of France along the Mediterranean Sea, situated with Provence to the east, the Pyrenees to the West, and Spain to the South. Well, that explains the hard left and heavy braking.
Minervois takes its name from Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom. Well, one thing you can say about the Romans: they knew a thing or two about wine. 2000 years ago they figured out some pretty good places to make wine, and leave it to the Wine-dar to lead me to it.
Today Minervois is one to the top wine appellations in Southern France’s Languedoc region. This terroir is just perfect for making full-flavored and distinctive reds. Oh, did I happen to mention, they are affordable too! A very good bottle can be had for around $15.
I know, enough with the Geography and Economics Griffy, let’s talk about the wine. It’s a blend of Syrah, Carignan, and Grenache. My own internal Wine-dar suggests keep you eye on Grenache, I have a feeling it is going to be the next hip varietal. It’s been getting a lot of press lately and many up-and-coming winemakers, not to mention some established superstars, have been singing it’s praises en route to making some sensational wines.
The Chateau Millegrand is a dirty ruby red. It’s aroma, and yes this is where I was hooked, features intense plum and blackcurrant with hints of the herbs that grow all over the area. The taste is ripe dark fruits, a nice round body, and the well over-worked pepper and spice. The label suggests you decant for an hour before serving, but I drank mine right out of the bottle. Well okay, I did pour it into a glass. Before that, the wine aged in French Oak for 12 months. The experts say that’s where the spice comes from, but I say it’s the terroir. As I mentioned before, lots of herbs and spice plants grow around the vineyard, and bees will go from plant to plant.
So listen to Griffy’s Wine-dar, go ask at your local wine store for a bottle from Minervois. It will be Chateau Something-or-other, giving you a name will not really help you, but a good wine man will know the region and steer you towards a worthy drink. You can pay $100 a bottle but don’t, you’ll get a great bottle for $15 to $25, and you too will fall in love with the wines from Minervois.
Remember Wine is not the answer, but it will help you to forget all those annoying questions.