M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon les Vignes de Bila-Haut Blanc 2016

Pale yellow color with hint of green; citrus, lemon, smoke on the nose; lemon, lime, grapefruit, melon, white peach on the palate.

M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon les Vignes de Bila-Haut Blanc 2016

Dry; good acidity, salty minerality, medium body; fresh, crisp and clean, extremely drinkable. Blend of grenache blanc, grenache gris, and macabeu. The grenache provides the lemon-lime elements, while the granache gris adds roundness and the melon. The macabeo delivers minerality bordering on a touch of salt, especially on the finish. Extraordinary value for an entry-level wine.

M. Chapoutier has been a presence in the Rhône Valley since 1808. Now they also make wine in Australia, Alsace, Portugal, and in Roussillon, a commune in southern France, where the grapes for this effort were grown. Roussillon is one of the historical counties of the former Principality of Catalonia; about one-third of the inhabitants still speak Catalan, a Western Romance language that evolved from Latin in southern France and northern Spain around the eastern Pyrenees. The region has produced wine for more than 2,000 years. Winemaker Michel Chapoutier purchased property in the highly valued Côtes du Roussillon in 1999.

M. Chapoutier vineyard in Rhône Valley

The House of Bila, a translation of the name of the estate, once was a refuge fro the Knights Templar, which explains the symbol of the label of this wine. The vineyards are in the hills of the Agly Valley; the vines are 40-plus years old. Sustainable farming and low yields combine to achieve the signature Chapoutier quality fruit.

The Chapoutier family moto is “Fac et Sprea”—do and hope. Their website celebrates audacity: “Being audacious means keeping an open mind, embracing new horizons, other localities, other organic winegrowing methods. Being audacious means combining tradition and modernity, making it possible for them to join forces and engender new know-how and craft.”

Part of that approach is careful attention to terroir, which includes responsible agriculture commitments and biodynamic agriculture in some areas. Led by winemaker Michel Chapoutier, they pioneered a special wine team dedicated to “accompanying the wine harvest” to provide guidance and support for implementing farming methods favored by M. Chapoutier among grape growers who provide grapes to the winery.

M. Chapoutier also asserts dedication to consumers. Their stated values include “Respect for the consumer whether they are wine connoisseurs or not. Maison M. Chapoutier crafts its regional wines with the same dedication given to the most prestigious bottles, investing just as much faith. The aim is always to convey the same love of wine, to give complete beginners a chance to discover its diversity.”

M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon les Vignes de Bila-Haut Blanc 2016 is astonishing value; delicious to drink; minerality and sophistication on the finish commands you to fill your glass again. It would be good value at twice the price. This can pair with a wide variety of dishes: roast chicken and pork, lamb chops, seafood; soft and creamy cheeses such as brie, camembert, fromage blanc, also with medium-hard nutty cheese such as aged Swiss, emmentaler, comté, and gruyère. Will work very well with richly spiced Asian, Indian, and Spanish fare; also with vegetarian dishes. In short, except for rich red meats, this will work with about everything. $8-11

M. Chapoutier website

Winemaker Michel Chapoutier
Bila-Haut vineyard