£13.74–£20.50, Drinks & Co, Cellar Selected, Mr & Mrs Fine Wine, Noble Green Wines, Kwoff, Hedonism
A jewel not just of Corbières but of all Languedoc red wines, Boutenac was officially recognised as the premier cru of Corbières in 2005 and remains its only stand-alone appellation. The 220 hectares of vineyards fan out from the Aleppo pine and Mediterranean scrub-clad hills of the Pinada range at the heart of the huge Corbières appellation. Pretty? Is the Pope Catholic?
Carignan is the heart and soul of Boutenac, vinified in whole bunches to preserve the aromas and guard against rustic tannins and from old vines, as at Château Fabre Gasparets. In the Fabre Gasparets blend the other key components are Mourvèdre and Syrah and the wine is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.
It all comes together in the 2017 in an inviting nose of red cherries, aromatic and earthy spices, sandalwood, woodsmoke and stony freshness and in an impressively concentrated and complex palate with rich fruit and filigree tannins.
I wouldn't argue with the suggestion on the label of serving it with a spit-roast leg of lamb, but also suggest duck, including rare magret, steak, cassoulet or hard, mountain cheeses, including sheep's. 14%.
The Fabre family, early converts to organic growing, have owned Château Fabre Gasparets since 1711 (one of five they own in Languedoc) and have been independent growers for more than four centuries spanning 14 generations. Long may they continue.
Château Fabre Gasparets Corbières-Boutenac 2017, Languedoc, France
£13.74 (plus shipping), Drinks & Co; £17.70, Cellar Selected; £18.99, Mr & Mrs Fine Wine; £19 (mix 6) or £21 (single), Noble Green Wines; £98.99 for 6, Kwoff; £20.50 for the 2016 (equally recommended), Hedonism