Deep ruby-crimson color; blackberry, plum, garigue, cherry on the nose; very nice fruit—strawberry, plum, black cherry, some leather, herbs, spice, cassis on the palate.
Dry; medium-full body; somewhat grippy tannins, but they are tasty and evolve into silky and provide structure; balancing acidity works well with the tannins and the fruitiness of the grapes; 14.5% ABV. This is blend of grenache, syrah, and maybe carignan, likely with grenache the lead grape, but neither bottle label or website definitely pins this down. There is some oak, but not obnoxious even after 18 months in barrel, most of which had to have been previously used. Some reviewers indicate this did not age in oak, and I might buy that, or only a portion aged in wood.
The House of Bila, a translation of the name of the estate, once was a refuge for the Knights Templar, which explains the symbol of the label of this wine. 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 Michael 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 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2016 is tasty, nicely fruity with touch of tartness on the mid-palate and finish. Nice, delicious, especially after some air—decant or swirl a while in a large glass. Excellent value-for-price; punches well above its weight. Pair with braised meats and stews; slow-cooked roasts of pork or lamb; shoulder of lamb or lamb shanks; hearty Spanish or Portuguese country cooking; could work with lighter Indian dishes; shepherds pie; barbecue; comfort foods like burgers, slider, meat-lover pizza; cheddar and red leicester cheese. $12-14