It’s certainly true that many of the wine world’s most compelling gems come to us from intersections of culture and politics. One of France’s most interesting examples is also one of its least known. A microscopic appellation south of the ancient city of Carcassonne, Cabardès lies at the intersection of the Languedoc and the Sud Ouest region that eventually leads to Bordeaux. As a result, appellation laws require Cabardès wines to include grape varieties important to both regions–so-called Atlantic grapes like Cabernet Franc and Merlot along with grapes common to the Languedoc and Rhône like Syrah and Grenache. It’s truly rare to get a glimpse of these grapes all commingling in one finished wine, and after tasting this expression, you might wonder why there aren’t more.
As it is dominated by Cabernet Franc, this wine greets you on the nose with notes of bright red berries adorned with spicier elements–white pepper, jalapeño, and cayenne among them. On the mid-palate, the riper Merlot comes through with notes of plum. The red fruited minerality of the Grenache, and subtle savory character of the Syrah sneaks up on the finish. This is a fuller-bodied wine perfectly suited for autumnal stews, but can stand up to everything from steak to smoked ribs. Or, for a real treat, try it without recipe for Phyllo Pie (recipe on reverse).
The Gianesini family at the helm of Château Jouclary owns a whopping 60 hectares in the newly established Cabardès appellation. Designated in 1998, there are fewer than twenty growers in the village that claim the appellation on their bottles. Due to the region’s unique location between the Mediterranean and Atlantic, it enjoys a relatively cool, windy climate. Wines are fermented naturally and are aged exclusively in cement, as is traditional.