Saint-Chinian is an appellation I look out for in restaurants. The wines – white and rosé as well as the more abundant reds – are usually better value than more familiar names. More than that, it’s a region where quality-focused estates are doing interesting things and in both the appellation’s soil types, the higher altitude schists in the north and west and the limestone and clay in lower areas to the south.
And it's one of the regions I look to in supermarkets for inexpensive, supple, fruity, medium-full reds that nevertheless have distinctive local character. Pierre Jaurant fits the bill perfectly with its generous, briary blackberry fruit and velvety, clove, liquorice and woodsmoke flavours.
The blend is Syrah (50%), Carignan and Grenache Noir grown across both soil types and it’s aged in concrete (70%) and American oak barrels for 8 months.
Considering the vines are 30–50 years’ old, which means they’re not over-productive, the price is all the more surprising until you know that the producer is Jean-Claude Mas, the visionary winemaker and owner of Domaines Paul Mas, which has 850 hectares of Languedoc Crus vineyards spread across 15 estates. On top of that, he works with partner-growers covering another 1500 ha, giving access to a vast volume of fruit.
This is a succulent crowd-pleasing red that would shine with barbecued or roast meats, poultry or vegetables, would be at home with ratatouille, moussaka or a daube with black olives and is not above sausage and mash, shepherds pie or macaroni cheese. 14%. Empty bottle weight: 531g.
Pierre Jaurant Saint-Chinian 2020, Languedoc, France