Sep 01, 2020Chris LaBranche

Comtesse Marion, VdF Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, $15.99

There are few wines out there like great Cabernet Sauvignon. And, to be fair, the best examples reliably come from one of two places–Bordeaux and California. But, just as light and playful Loire Valley Pinot Noir is not trying to be as deep, contemplative, and profound as Red Burgundy, so too can Cabernets from elsewhere achieve deliciousness without the class of Bordeaux or depth of Napa. That said, many Cabernets from elsewhere try a little too hard to replicate these great examples, and in doing so lose their appeal. We’re always jazzed to find humble Cabernets such as this one from Comtesse Marion in the Languedoc of all places–farmed right, varietally correct, delicious. And, not trying to be anything it can’t be.

On the nose, Comtesse Marion is classic–ripe, black fruits intermingling with herbaceous notes of black pepper and licorice. On the palate, the wine is at once ripe and fresh, with the grippy tannins we expect, and a fresh dose of acidity on the finish. The wine manages to be both big and elegant, offering up a ton of flexibility on the dinner table. And, without any of the oak signatures often found in higher-end Cabernet, the purity of the fruit here is remarkable. Good with grilled red meats of any variety, for something unusual but delicious, try it with our recipe for Peperonata.

Hailing from perhaps the most wild, Mediterranean-feeling region of France’s south, the terroir of the vast Languedoc is blessed with much complexity. In certain corners, the weather is warm and almost tropical. In others–the mountains in particular–it is cool and temperate, yet still marked by the presence of the sea. In the warmer regions one has to be careful to harvest at the right time so as to preserve acidity. Comtesse Marion’s lovely Cabernet hails from vineyards with rocky, volcanic soils along the Mediterranean coast. It is fermented and aged in steel tanks to preserve freshness of fruit, a rarity when it comes to Cabernet.

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